|Humanist Essay for July 2011
"It's Time to Get Serious About The Universal Declaration of Human Rights"
How much do you know about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the United Nations committee that drafted the UDHR, which was adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. The United States was a signatory nation, but in the ensuing years we have not walked the talk. Our country has assiduously avoided ratifying several international legal treaties that together constitute an International Bill of Rights to give the weight of law to the thirty human rights enshrined in the Declaration.
Think about the highly politicized issues dividing our country today, and how differently we would have to approach them if we truly embraced the meaning of this Declaration. We could stop arguing about who should be entitled to what and start figuring out how to guarantee everyone the fundamental security and dignity that civilized, compassionate human beings recognize to be the birthright of all.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number and severity of problems facing our country and the world at this moment, look at the foundation that has been laid for us by others who lived in hard times. Extraordinary work has been done. It is a fitting task for our humanist societies to carry the mission forward. Let's consider what we can do to educate the public about Universal Human Rights, and bring the weight of public opinion to bear on our leaders to put deeds to words.
Read the complete Universal Declaration of Human Rights
This text is in the public domain, and the web site provides a printable version for download. May I suggest: Make copies to share with friends and associates; add the UDHR link to your signature line; introduce the UDHR as a topic of discussion in your spiritual, philosophical or political meetings. Not only does the document bring up moral and practical issues worthy of serious discussion, it encourages us to plunge into history and remember the context in which it was composed. In the aftermath of two massive wars fought within a mere half-century, representatives from around the world came together in good faith to draft a social contract for humanity calling for world peace, universal freedom and secure living conditions for all. It is up to us to promote and pursue their vision.