It is an often proven fact that whenever a group of people wish to attain equal status and liberty that the majority enjoys, they encounter staunch opposition. The minority in question cannot simply wait for the majority to grant them their deserved rights because that event will never happen.
A person only needs to look back on historical accounts of movements for liberty and human rights. The literature is filled with shunning, oppression, bigotry, sexism, homophobia, resistance, reaction and more. In the much celebrated land of liberty and self-labeled home of the free we find, that the human rights of the United States were acquired at great cost. Taking up the struggle for human rights requires an encounter with the forces of tradition and social inertia.
In fact, many other nations have taken the lead away from the United States where human rights and civil liberties are concerned. Yet, most of us, myself included, consider that the USA represents the best case scenario.
The nation got off on the wrong foot by disregarding the human rights of the first Americans, the people who lived in the Americas long before the arrival of the European adventurers and settlers. The spectre of slavery and indentured servitude remains as a scar on the American psyche. Sexism and sexuality have loomed large in the human rights and civil liberties struggle in the nation to this day.
One by one, each of the human rights struggles have eventually been legally addressed on state and federal levels. The social acceptance of human rights for each group is slow in coming, even with the help of influential allies to their causes.
The fight for women’s suffrage and equal rights began in earnest in the 19th Century. Equal rights were still a highly controversial issue in the late 20th Century. There are still pockets of reaction against women’s gains today.
The enslavement of African Americans legally came to a halt in the 1860s. A hundred years later, stiff resistance to the acceptance of blacks could be found in most areas of the United States. There is still a strong undercurrent of racism present in the nation in spite of monumental gains from the civil rights movements.
Regarding racism and genocide, there are still human rights abuses committed against native Americans. The struggle for equality and equal treatment of Amerindian peoples is still a lingering problem.
Garnering today’s headlines are the human rights and civil liberty struggles of sexual minorities. Even though some footholds have been made in some areas, there is scant federal protection of LGBT citizens. In the majority of the United States, LGBT people live shadow lives out of fear for their families, loved ones, loss of jobs and homes, sometimes loss of life. As in all previous human rights struggles, this one has encountered opposition from the same segments of society.
If there have been human rights abuses in the United States, what about the rest of the world? Sadly, authoritarian regimes across the globe are infamous for gross violations of human rights. All forms of oppression, torture, genocide and other harming and killing actions can be found. In addition, most areas of the world harbor impoverished conditions.
Poverty is probably the most difficult of human rights and civil liberties struggles. Lifting people out of poverty is not just a job for charities. Each nation should be responsible for the basic abolition of poverty.
Even though, poverty has been with mankind for many ages, the eradication of it is achievable. Because of the enormity of the necessary work to bring human rights and basic civil liberties to everybody, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” on December 10, 1948. It was one of the first actions of the United Nations. In 1950, Human Rights Day was formally instituted by the international forum.
On December 10th of each year, five United Nations prizes are awarded for accomplishments in the advancement of human rights in the world. Coincidentally, this is also the day the Nobel Peace Prize is also awarded.
I hope that you’ll keep in mind the accomplishments that humanity has made towards equal human rights for all of us. I also hope that you can remember that there are many millions of human beings here and abroad who are also deserving of human rights and civil liberties without delay.
The Blue Jay of Happiness shares this resource page from the United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/rights/index.shtml