When I signed up to write about Human Rights for Blog Action Day 2013, I had no idea what I was going to write. I of course waited until the day it was due to even begin, but I came up with something that I hope will provoke thought and discussion among those of you who read it. Please feel free to comment below if you have anything at all to say, even if you think I'm full of crap. I can take it. - Mike
I don't think any discussion of Human Rights can begin without an understanding of what these so called rights even are. All I knew was that Human Rights are simply rights that all human's should have, but what these rights were, I did not know. A Google search directed me to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. This declaration, written on the heels of the most savage war in human history, presents a specific set of rights inherent to all humans, much like our own Bill of Rights. Reading the 30 articles, I was struck by one overpowering thought that drowned all others.
In the United States, our political leaders and public figures, as far back as I can remember, have stood high on the mountaintop of morality and extolled the virtues of human rights with the fervor of a southern baptist preacher on Sunday morning. Everyone deserves freedom we are told. All people deserve basic human rights they say.
But these same people who speak so passionately, and so assuredly... These same people who build schools in Africa, and send food to North Korea... These same people who chastise the "unenlightened" nations for their treatment of women, and suppression of free speech and religion... These same people to whom human rights are so important they wage war so that others may have them... These same people piss on our own rights here at home.
Make no mistake, this isn't a political rant. I'm no republican or democrat. I haven't cast my lot with any groupthink ideology or philosophy. I've cast my lot with humanity... With my country.
Our leaders point their fingers at the world and lecture from plastic pulpits about the ideals of freedom and democracy, while at home they tighten the screws of the control machine. Our celebrities and affluent philanthropic do-gooders shovel billions into non-profits that work to ensure and protect the human rights of others around the world, while ignoring the mounting human rights violations that are happening here at home.
All hail the hypocrites I say! For even as laws and presidential orders systematically strip our rights away, we apathetic masses shuffle happily about our daily routines ignorant and oblivious... The greatest swerve in the history of mankind, sure to be admired by the masters in deception of ages past, and emulated by future tyrants the world over. Obediently we sit, content with our iPhone's and flatscreen TV's. Plugged in, but tuned out...
In a time of unprecedented government control, I'm curious if I even have the right to write this blog? Will I be considered an enemy of the state for what I've said, or be placed on some kind of government watch list? Will my emails be read, and my cell phone taped? Will I be arrested, and if so, will I be allowed an attorney, and the right to a speedy trial? Will I even be allowed a trial at all? If I'm considered a threat, will I be assassinated? Will our Bill of Rights remain law, or merely a novel museum attraction to be undermined and ignored?
Perhaps you read that last paragraph and are thinking that I've finally went off the deep-end in this blog post, but sadly, in today's United States of America all of those scenarios could actually legally happen, and as we silently drift through the information age oppressed, uninformed and uncaring, I can't help but wonder what the future holds for us if we don't act. What rights will our children have?
My call to action for Blog Action Day 2013 is to ask yourself a simple question...
Am I really free?
If the answer is no, then do something about it.
Educate. Vote. Protest. Petition the president and congress. Talk with your friends and coworkers.
Perhaps more importantly, be vigilant about the words our leaders speak, and the dissemination of information by media. Doublespeak and propaganda flow freely from these pawns of disinformation, but like the truth itself, may be camouflaged and difficult to spot. Read multiple sources. Form your own opinions. Take everything you read with a grain of salt.
I'll leave you now with an excerpt from a speech by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce circa 1879
"...I have heard talk and talk but nothing is done. Good words do not last long unless they amount to something. Words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country now overrun by white men. They do not protect my father's grave. They do not pay for my horses and cattle. Good words do not give me back my children. Good words will not make good the promise of your war chief, General Miles. Good words will not give my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises. There has been too much talking by men who had no right to talk. Too many misinterpretations have been made; too many misunderstandings have come up between the white men and the Indians. If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian he can live in peace. There need be no trouble. Treat all men alike. Give them the same laws. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. You might as well expect all rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. If you tie a horse to a stake, do you expect he will grow fat? If you pen an Indian up on a small spot of earth and compel him to stay there, he will not be contented nor will he grow and prosper. I have asked some of the Great White Chiefs where they get their authority to say to the Indian that he shall stay in one place, while he sees white men going where they please. They cannot tell me."