Tag Archive | Golden Rule

Human Rights and Compassion

October 16 is the annual Blog Action Day. Since 2007, bloggers have come together to write on an important issue. Past issues have included Poverty, Water, and Climate Change. The issue for 2013 is Human Rights.
I have had a separate page on this blog for the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. I also have a separate page dedicated to the Charter for Compassion. I believe human rights (the Declaration) and compassion (the Charter) are related and complementary. I believe that we need both human rights and compassion to achieve world peace.

Eleanor Roosevelt and Human Rights Declaration

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights came about following the atrocities of World War II. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948. Its drafters said:

Man’s desire for peace lies behind this Declaration. The realization that the flagrant violation of human rights by Nazi and Fascist countries sowed the seeds of the last world war has supplied the impetus for the work which brings us to the moment of achievement here today.

Charter for compassion logo

CharterforCompasssion.org

The Charter for Compassion came about from a TED Prize wish of comparative religion scholar and writer, Karen Armstrong. The Charter was developed by a Council of Conscience and was unveiled on November 12, 2009. Sister Joan Chittester,  a member of the Council, said:

In a world where force is too often the response to differences of opinion, culture and ideas of the divine, compassion is its one universal antidote. This Charter gives spiritual voices the opportunity to unite in this most authentic cry for peace.

I believe the Charter for Compassion is an important document-become-movement for our post 9-11 world.

The Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins thusly:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge, …

The Charter for Compassion begins this way:

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

The Declaration ends:

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

The Charter concludes:

We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

I believe we need to think in terms of both rights and compassion. We need both head and heart (and hands and feet, too) to achieve world peace. We do need rights in terms of law. We need them spelled out, stood upon, and accounted for. However, rights themselves can go only so far. We also need compassion and empathy. We need to think in terms of treating each other as we would wish to be be treated — the Golden Rule.

As I have said before, “I believe that a human being is a human being is a human being with all the rights and privileges thereof.” We should all be treated accordingly — even by nations, including my own.

I Declare World Peace.

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Peace Day ~ 2013

Tomorrow, September 21, is the International Day of Peace, a very important day. it is a United Nations designated day “devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.” Accordingly, it is also to be a Day of Ceasefire.

It is to be a day for a prayer, an act, a thought for peace. I believe it can also be a day to take stock, for reflection.

Our world is a mess as it always is. However, there have been important moves of late that are important to my area of concern. Wherever they may lead or not lead, peace talks have been restarted between Israelis and Palestinians. The new president of Iran, Hassan Rohani, a moderate, is reaching out to the West, especially U.S. president, Barack Obama. The two have even corresponded. The United States has at least delayed and maybe cancelled its proposed military strike on Syria. Syria is declaring its chemical weapons and wants to be under the international Chemical Weapons Treaty. I also note that the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis I, is calling for a kinder, gentler church with an emphasis on the poor, marginalized, and oppressed.

Israeli Apartheid and Occupation of Palestinians with related strife continue. The Syrian Civil War continues, becoming more complicated with fighting between the opposition forces and with a huge outpouring of refugees, not to mention internal displacement. The pope has not changed his mind on women priests and sexual matters. Iran, it is said, will not turn into a liberal democracy. In other words, though baby steps for peace may be taken, difficulties, injustice, strife, and violence do continue.

However, for Peace Day and everyday, I Declare World Peace.

I Declare World Peace

 

I also encourage the signing of the Charter for Compassion, believing that the practice of compassion and the related Golden Rule, including by nations,  is the way to peace.

Endless War in the Drone Age

This second of two posts on drones features a slide presentation by Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of CODEPINK and author of the book,  Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control, 2012. (My previous post on drones is here.) I Declare World Peace, not drones.

Thanks to Medea for sharing publicly.

10 Reasons you should be OUTRAGED on the Drone Wars:

I have been wanting to post on the issue of drones, especially the “killer drones,” but have not been able to get it together. Instead, I am borrowing, in two posts, from others. This is a post from an organizer with CODEPINK who is Yemeni-American.

I Declare World Peace.

Digital footprints

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10. Bombing civilian communities and destroying homes, schools, hospitals, and pharmacies, is a form of terrorism. Saying oops and labeling them collateral damage is not OK. They are human beings with stories and histories. These are War Crimes.

Ex. On Dec 2009, a U.S. Tomhawk cruise missile hit al-majalah, a village in Yemen and dropped cluster bombs all over, killing  14 women including 5 pregnant woman and 21 children (the youngest child was only a one year old.) The cluster bombs resulted in two more deaths a year later after it exploded and injured15 more. No one killed in that massacre was even considered a “militant”. In other words: this was a war crime.

9. It took Diplomatic cables for the U.S. to finally admit they were launching airstrikes and waging a war in Yemen. They’ve been lying to you despite using your money to pay for these wars.

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Diplomatic Amorality

Somewhere along the way, it has become accepted that in representing a state, normal rules are suspended. Under the catch-all moral permission of droit d’etat, officials acting in the name of the state, even law-abiding democracies like Britain or the U.S., are entitled to forsake normal moral inhibitions, like those against killing or causing harm to others. If such actions are justified by the needs of the state, not only are they excused, they are explicitly available. Indeed, the good diplomat is told to reject the softheaded morality of ordinary people if he is to practice his trade as it must be practiced–realpolitik. If death and the suffering of others are the result, this is a necessary price of protecting our own.

I have not come by this criticism by way of academic study or historical research. I know this because once I did it. I helped do harm to innocent others, with the explicit moral cover of the state, safe in the knowledge that I would never be held to account. With the comfort of impunity, I once committed violence in the name of the state.

— former British diplomat, Carne Ross, in his book, The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century (2011). Ross resigned in 2004, after giving secret evidence about how the British government had exaggerated the case for invading Iraq and ignored available alternatives to war. See his website here.

As an ordinary person trying to end and prevent war,  I Declare World Peace.

Greetings from America

This cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, Joel Pett of the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, on the U.S. drone strikes says it all for me. Is this what we have come to as a nation? Is this what we want for our foreign policy? Are Americans only of worth?

GTMO-HungerStrike-16

This is the chair used to force feed  U.S. prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who were captured in the indefinite Global War of Terror On Terror. At least 100 of the 166  prisoners there are on hunger strike. They are protesting their indefinite detention. (See  more Guantanamo Joint Medical Group Hunger Strike Response Photos here.)

code_pink_2

This is Diane Wilson, CODEPINK hunger striker for the closing of Guantanamo Bay Prison, who chained herself to the White House fence. (See story here and here.) (Diane explains her hunger strike here.)

JuliaWardHowe (1)

This is Julia Ward Howe. She wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but later, following the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War, she wrote in 1870 The “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world,” later known as “Mother’s Day Proclamation” on behalf of world peace. (See here.)

Me? I love my country, the U.S. of A., but I am not a proud American. I, not to be naive, suggest the United States government be a practitioner in its foreign policy of what has come to be called the Golden Rule, the ethical maxim of the world’s religions and philosophies. After all, our recent defining event of 9-11 was blowback for the neglect of that rule. The Golden Rule does not say do to others before they do to us and to only treat Americans as we would wish to be treated.

As an American citizen and a mother, I Declare World Peace.

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See also the excellent post by Lisa Savage of CODEPINK  Maine: Sorry We Raised Our Kids to Kill.

Human Rights Are for Human Beings

The State Journal, of my hometown of Frankfort, KY has reported a flap in a recent city commission meeting. After publishing a news report the previous day, there was an editorial and a cartoon on Tuesday, January 29.

The editorial, “Represent Everyone,”  included this on the matter at hand:

At a City Commission meeting Friday, [new Commissioner Robert] Roach stated he was against re-establishing a local human rights commission because he is not in favor of expanded rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, commonly called LGBT.

Roach was quoted as saying the issue comes down to whether or not you believe it to be “moral.” He went on to say his opposition was based on “divine revelation, natural law and millennia of customs.”

Whether or not the city re-establishes a human rights commission, Roach needs to understand there must not be discrimination in the hiring and managing of government employees. Those hired by the city must be judged on their work performance, not their sexual preference or someone else’s judgement of their “morals.”

Roach is the former headmaster of The Frankfort Christian Academy, so it it is not hard to imagine the slant of his personal views on such matters.

This made me post a deeply-held belief of mine at Google Plus (Anne G. Woodhead) that I am reposting here:

#believe  that a human being is a human being is a human being with all the rights and privileges thereof.

I don’t care if the person is black, white, red, blue, striped, polka-dotted, liberal, conservative, handicapped, non-handicapped, brilliant, not-so-brilliant,  rich, poor, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, of other religion, Atheist, Agnostic, American, Afghan, Iraqi, Palestinian,or of other country, lesbian, gay, straight, man, woman, or whatever.

I agree with Thomas Jefferson who wrote in the U.S. Declaration of Independence “that all men [sic] are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable Rights; that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

#humanrights  for All Forever!

In return, I received an interesting, pertinent comment that said:

Precisely. An interesting tidbit about the use of “men”.  In Old English, the term for a male human was “were” and a female human was “wif”.  The term “man” meant human. The “were” today survives in constructs like “werewolf” (half man / half wolf) and wif morphed int both wife and woman. The all inclusive “man” grew narrower and particularly with various social awareness efforts starting in the late 1950s, is now viewed a not inclusive at all.

I note that President Obama built his Second Inaugural Address around that most famous and deeply-cherished quote of Thomas Jefferson’s above.

I would also like to say regarding Commissioner Roach and his belief in the limitation of rights for LGBT  persons based on his view of Christianity that I don’t remember seeing Jesus himself discriminating against anyone in the Gospels. In fact, I see just the opposite. Jesus seemed to include everyone and seemed to especially favor the marginalized and outcast. He also advised us to treat others as we would wish to be treated. I note that the Book of Genesis in the beginning of the Bible spoke about human beings being made in God’s image. I did not see anyone being excluded from that.

I also note that Article 1. of the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

All of this is prompting me to repost The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a page to itself in this blog because I believe that declaring human rights is a way to declare and foster world peace.

In this regard, I Declare World Peace for all.