In class this week, my teacher showed a short video about the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights titled “What opened your eyes to human rights?” Since this was in a 12th-grade government class, I am well aware that most of the students around me were probably not even paying attention, let alone actually cared about what was being discussed–a harsh reality that I truly wish I could change. The best I can do, however, is to keep trying to talk about it–which is fortunately what this blog allows me to do. So, since I think it’s important for you all to know a bit about where I am coming from, I will answer the question myself of what exactly opened my eyes to human rights.
I have spent most of my life moving and traveling–with more time spent in hotels and airports than any one house, I’m sure. Due to my father’s work, my family has relocated back and forth between South Africa, my birth country, and California several times. Having lived for so many years in a country that is still suffering massively from the after-effects of one of the biggest human rights blunders in history–apartheid–I feel a strong sense of duty to find ways for ordinary people like myself to help bring about justice in the world.
Now, I’m only 18 years old, and I live in a small, sheltered town in northern California, so my ability to affect change is fairly low. For this reason exactly, I have decided to take every opportunity I can to speak out. My hope is that this blog will give me the opportunity to discuss important human rights issues, learn different perspectives, and raise awareness of all the overlooked problems in other countries and my own. This particular issue–the promise of natural rights to every individual–is so often tossed on the back burner. And even in a country like my own–a country that is renowned for upholding the value of individual rights–the government and the people consistently fall short of the promises made when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed.
I strongly believe that each and every one of us is responsible for keeping alive the fight for fairness, since it affects us all. And I hope that everyone can share my enthusiasm about the prospect of a world without injustice!
A striking and motivational philosophy that we could all take to heart: “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.” –George Washington, George Washington’s Rule of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
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