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article imageOp-Ed: What Are Human Rights?

By KJ Mullins     May 5, 2008 in Lifestyle
Human rights are a big buzz word in today's media. Tibet, China, Iran, Iraq and even the countries of North America have been questioned over their human rights policies. But what exactly are human rights?
“ 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. ”
—Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)[2]
Being born free. Equal. With dignity.
All humans are born free to have the right to the basics in life. Right? Well it depends on where you are born. If you are born poor you may not get those same rights that everyone is spouting out about.
Human rights are a 'new age' philosophy if you look back to its humble beginnings. It is also a very selective philosophy.
Consider that women were just recently deemed equal to men in most parts of the world, historically speaking. In other parts of the world they are still not quite so equal.
Let's get to the root of human rights. If you bring it down to brass tacks it was meant for the 'average white man' to have the same freedoms as all other 'average white men.'
The thoughts about human rights of course have changed since the humble beginnings of many Western governments giving their citizens basic rights.
Seriously though when one considers what human rights are who has them all? In North America we are allowed to worship who we choose. But are we? If we go against the grain and opt for a non-Christian lifestyle then even the rulers that govern us condemn us with their words.
"I am committed to the First Amendment principles of religious freedom, tolerance, and diversity. Whether Mormon, Methodist, Jewish, or Muslim, Americans should be able to participate in their constitutional free exercise of religion. I do not think witchcraft is a religion, and I do not think it is in any way appropriate for the U.S. military to promote it." -George Bush
What about the right to obtain an education? That again depends on where you live and if you were lucky enough to be born into a family with money.
We can expect to not be arrested for something without a reason. Well, unless the government thinks you have ties to terrorism or are a terrorist because then human rights are not so much there. We have the right to fall in love, as long as we fall in a heterosexual type of love. Otherwise it's iffy and depends on where you live. We have the right to have food, as long as we can afford it. If you can't afford it and you fit in the right boxes on the welfare agenda then you are given money for food. If you don't fit into the box though there are soup kitchens and the like in the bigger cities. There is always mudpies it you are dirt poor.
Did you ever notice that the right to medical care isn't listed in human rights? Free medical care is not a right in parts of the world. Loopholes have all the fun.
Human rights are a glorious idea but are they real? In a perfect world yes but this world isn't perfect. Human rights are a standard that governments aim for but often fall short. The West does have some of the best human rights of the world but it's not perfect. We have to remember that it's also not always the same desires of other cultures to be like the West.
We are all the same under our coverings yet that covering changes what rights we can hope to have. Men have different rights than women, whites have different rights than blacks, religious people have different rights than non-believers and so on. It's not perfect, it's not fair but it is the reality that we live in.
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