Human Rights: Happy 71st Birthday!

December is Human Rights Month and December 10 is Human Rights Day!

It is observed every year on this day since 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“…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.” … Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

In recognition of this notable achievement, for the month of December I will be posting a series of blogs, “Towards Human Rights,” about human rights. The purpose of this blog series is to make the case for the implementation and acceptance of human rights as a global values system. It is based on my book Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

Towards Human Rights: A Global Values System, part 1

I question whether human rights are actually accepted globally as universal human values, since I realize that many people in other parts of the world do not hold these 1.1 human rights emblenvalues. Either they are not part of their cultural foundation, or their governments or other authorities restrict their exercising of these values. But I aim to explain, encourage and support an expanded notion of human rights as a global values system for all global citizens to embrace.

This expanded notion of human rights is not just a modern or Western concept; it has broad and deep historical roots that span diverse cultures, societies, and nations throughout the world. With this expanded notion, human rights can be a universal value system for all to uphold.

There are many different definitions of human rights. One I particularly like is by Lynn Hunt that includes three interlocking qualities: Rights must be natural (inherent in human beings), equal (same for everyone), and universal (applicable everywhere). All humans…possess them equally…because they are human beings.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

After the end of World War II in 1945, many people looked back at the horrors unleashed

1.2 Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt with UDHR in Spanish

by the war and wondered what happened to our sense of humanity, morals and ethics. The shock of the terrible Holocaust, the dropping of the atomic bomb by the U.S., killing thousands of Japanese civilians, and the death and suffering of millions around the world (the Chinese had the most deaths with an estimated 25 million).

This cruelty affected many concerned citizens who decided they could no longer look the other way while tyrants jailed, tortured, and killed their fellow citizens. They took steps to found an international organization called the United Nations (UN) in 1945. The stated purpose of the UN is to set up a framework for national cooperation in the areas of international law and security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and world peace. Today the U.N. is located on international territory in New York City and has 193 member states.

1.3 UN

UN Headquarters in New York City, USA

One of the main accomplishments of the UN is the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, served as President and Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights from 1946-1952. Under her able and dedicated leadership, member states passed over two dozen human rights laws.

International human rights’ experts researched and wrote the UDHR, including representatives from all continents and all major religions, and drawing on contributions from peace leaders around the world, such as Mahatma Gandhi of India.

1.4 Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi 

Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights were included as inseparable, basic human rights. The countries that signed the document pledged to respect and protect the dignity and rights of all humans across the globe.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

Please email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

1.5 book

For more information about the topic of human rights see Dr. Ames’ book Human Rights: Towards a Global Values System, $17.95, 225 pgs. Also available on Amazon.

 

 

 

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Discovering the Cultural Divide: My Journey to Understanding, Part 7

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my forthcoming book (January 2020), Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.

Join me in this 7 part blog series in discovering how I came to studying, researching, teaching, and writing about the divide.  See the divide play out in your life as well!

Understanding People Different From Us

I find the few cultural differences I described in the previous blog to be fascinating. These differences are a key to understanding why so many working people disregarded the “hard, factual data” showing that Trump’s policies actually may hurt them 7.1 divideeconomically, yet still voted for him. In order to connect with people outside our inner circle, we need to be able to reach out and understand “the other.”

For years, the college-educated, myself included, have wanted mainstream white America to understand those from “other” cultures and minorities. Usually it meant people from outside the U.S., and our minority populations, but rarely was there an outreach effort to understand people like those who eventually supported Trump.

Perhaps it is now time, to reverse roles and have the college-educated “elites” be the students and learn about white, non-college-educated America, Trump America. Even if 7.2 divideTrump fails in his reelection bid or is impeached, the millions of Trump voters are still part of America. They are not going to disappear if Trump disappears.

Their culture is different, varied and worth learning more about. If we are to get past throwing disparaging judgments at groups of people and more deeply understand who they are, then we have a better chance of advancing an agenda of greater economic justice, peace, sustainability, and inclusiveness. This book, Divided, is dedicated to this goal. For the future of our country, it is worth trying.

No blog on November 29 in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday. Happy Thanksgiving.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

wviewscoverPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more about worldviews see Dr. Ames’ book Five Worldviews: How We See the World. $9.95

 

 

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Discovering the Cultural Divide: My Journey to Understanding, Part 6

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my forthcoming book (January 2020), Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.

Join me in this 7 part blog series in discovering how I came to studying, researching, teaching, and writing about the divide.  See the divide play out in your life as well!

Experiencing the Cultural Divide: My Story, Part 2

I was appalled at Trump’s scandals. But in my family, scandal was part of the colorful stories we told. Since so many of us made mistakes and exhibited scandalous behavior at one time or another, it was largely considered part of life. We didn’t judge these6.1 Trump behaviors as reason for rejection of the accused from the extended family, since few (if any) of us escaped inappropriate behavior. I was not surprised that Trump’s scandals were condemned by the voters, but they still voted for him.

I was also appalled at Trump’s treatment of women. Although our family followed the typical social practices of “men in charge” of their families, it was plain to see that my grandmother was the real matriarch. I was lucky to learn from many “strong” women in the family. Even though many male members of my family talked about “ruling the roast,” women, in their quiet and non-confrontational way, acknowledged these proud but empty declarations of male supremacy, all the while knowing who really was “ruling the roast” behind the scenes.6.2 family reunion 1959

Our extended family was tribal. We stuck together, helped each other, and distrusted outsiders. As a youngster, my friends were my cousins, and I didn’t venture outside that cocoon until high school. Trump was able to create a virtual family with his bright red baseball caps and assorted political paraphernalia proclaiming tribal allegiance and membership in the Trump family.

Many pundits were perplexed about why Trump, who was a New York billionaire, resonated with white working class people. My family admired those who made lots of money but were “still one of them.” One of my cousins, a multi-millionaire, comes to funerals and family reunions and is greeted with comments such as “see, he is still family.”

Trump wore expensive suits, but still fit in. His language and demeanor didn’t have an air of elitism, which resonated with his “common man” supporters. It was a validation 6.3 maga hatsthat they were worthy and part of his community: wealth, glamour, prestige, and accomplishment. They were part of “Trumpland.”

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

wviewscoverPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more about worldviews see Dr. Ames’ book Five Worldviews: How We See the World. $9.95

 

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Discovering the Cultural Divide: My Journey to Understanding, Part 5

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my forthcoming book (January 2020), Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.

Join me in this 7 part blog series in discovering how I came to studying, researching, teaching, and writing about the divide.  See the divide play out in your life as well!

Experiencing the Cultural Divide: My Story, Part 1

5. Rockford Illinois

Rockford, Illinois

To get a better understanding of a Trump supporter, and the cultural divide in this country, I would like to share with you a brief description of the cultural outlook of white, non-college educated people in the Midwest through the prism of my experiences growing up in a white, working class, extended family in Rockford, Illinois.

After World War II, most members of my extended paternal family, including my father, moved from the rural swampland of central Wisconsin to the industrial city of Rockford in northern Illinois, just 90 miles west of Chicago. They settled into factory jobs, or in the case of my father, he formed a small business building houses.

5.2 Old Barber-Colman Facotry

Old Barber-Colman factory in Rockford, Illinois

I grew up in a working class world, my father and extended family firmly held working class cultural values, expectations, and traditions. Although my mother was raised in a middle class family and her values gradually influenced me more, the sway of the large extended family intensely imprinted the formation of my character. Even though I went on to earn a doctorate in history, my Midwestern, working class roots are still with me at a deep level.

02a Denzil Ames

My father, Denzil Ames, in World War II uniform

Our family’s cultural values were a mix of tribal affiliations, reliance on one’s own intuition, and a fierce pride. “Book learnin” as my father scoffed, wasn’t all that useful; rely on “your gut” to make decisions. I heard repeatedly that you learned the most from the “school of hard knocks,” rather than learning from books. Trump repeatedly said he followed his gut; he didn’t rely on experts or data to inform his decisions. Conversely, Clinton in the campaign employed a squad of experts and data crunchers to analyze trends.

Trump’s gut instincts won him the admiration of the working class who processed information the same way. A reporter for Atlantic magazine, Salena Zito, stated: “The people who were against Mr. Trump took him literally but not seriously. His supporters took him seriously but not literally.”

My family communicated with each other in this way: story, hyperbole, and humor. We still tell long stories with vivid descriptions of long ago events or relatives living and departed. Trump’s exaggerations and vivid symbolism, such as building the wall, would3.1 President Donald Trump resonate with my family. Our stories were always laced with exaggerations, even outright lies, but we didn’t take these literally. I remember once I corrected my father, who was the master of clever tales, that a particular part of his story was untrue. He jeered, “You just read too many books.”

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

wviewscoverPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more about worldviews see Dr. Ames’ book Five Worldviews: How We See the World. $9.95

 

 

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Discovering the Cultural Divide: My Journey to Understanding, Part 4

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my forthcoming book (January 2020), Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.

Join me in this 7 part blog series in discovering how I came to studying, researching, teaching, and writing about the divide.  See the divide play out in your life as well!

The Ethos of Progress

Even though I was in the throes of helping my daughter and son-in-law care for premature twins  just home from the hospital, I continued to think about the fierce divisions in this country that have intensified over the decades. In between diaper changes, I contemplated the divisions that had always simmered between different constituencies in the U.S.

4.1 progress vs. preservation

Progress vs. Preservation

But despite differences, the key uniting story that has knitted this country together is the ethos of progress. We could all get ahead economically if we worked hard and played by the rules.

This ethos has worked in the United States since its founding. Americans needed this guiding purpose to conquer the frontier, vanquish native people, and build the concrete jungle that is our current way of life.

02 American Progress, John Gast

American Progress by John Gast

We did so without thought of the consequences or our own well-being, let alone the environmental consequence. In fact, Americans have found this ethos is so wonderful that we have exported it around the world to some who have eagerly embraced, while others have been more skeptical.

This ethos of progress is enticing but dangerous, since the chances of it continuing unabated is slim. Also, the meaning of progress has been changing, especially among rural/urban, college/non-college educated, white/people of color, and religious/non-religious citizenry. Yet, our political leaders (on right and left) continued to preach the same ethos, but it was not resonating with a large chuck of voters.

12.3 white identityTrump was able to speak to the disaffected voters, the white, rural, working class, and non-college educated voters in ways the college-educated citizenry were unable to understand. Instead, they wrote him off as ignorant, racist, misogynist, homophobic, and other judgmental attacks that fed into more divisiveness. The spiral of anger, distrust, and misunderstanding entered a whole more divisive level.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

wviewscoverPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more about worldviews see Dr. Ames’ book Five Worldviews: How We See the World. $9.95

 

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Discovering the Cultural Divide: My Journey to Understanding, Part 3

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my forthcoming book (January 2020), Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.

Join me in this 7 part blog series in discovering how I came to studying, researching, teaching, and writing about the divide.  See the divide play out in your life as well!

Election Day 2016: the Aftermath

3.1 ship.JPGWith no sleep, I stumbled through the cruise ship’s farewell breakfast buffet. Everything seemed to be normal. Even the breakfast server seemed unfazed and a bit baffled by my passionate declaration of dire consequences awaiting the world and the cruise industry because of the election.

All of the pessimistic warnings came to naught but I was in enmeshed in an emotional and irrational fury. I gathered my baggage and took the bus to the airport. I chatted with several people; some who were as stunned as I was while others said they thought Trump would be a good president and his ideas were sorely needed. I thought they must be delusional and not know that dangers lurked below the surface.

3.2 Trump with Kelly Ann Conway, election night

Trump with adviser, Kelly Ann Conway, election night 2016

My son, a political junkie, called me at the Venice airport to hear my thoughts on the election and rant a bit, well, a rant a lot, about the events. He attended an election viewing party with his neighbors near Arizona State University in Tempe, and they all staggered home in disbelief. He hoped I didn’t have any trouble getting home from Europe to the U.S., as if perhaps Europeans would seek revenge on an average American citizen who could have possibly voted for Trump. Actually, I made it home safely and without incident.

As I made my way back to the United States, my depression intensified as the political reality sank in. What could have happened? I read everything I could about the election to see why the key Rust Belt states went for Trump, although by a narrow margin. What was his appeal? I started t3.3o realize that I had missed, along with many other people, an important trend in American culture: an intense dissatisfaction with the prevailing powers by a large swath of the American public. I was fascinated with this shift and was committed to understanding more about it.

My investigation into the question about the cultural divide, however, would have to wait several months; more immediate events were at hand: my daughter prematurely gave birth to twins, a boy and girl. My help was needed in New York City for several months. I happily switched my attention from politics to grandmotherly duties.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

wviewscoverPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more about worldviews see Dr. Ames’ book Five Worldviews: How We See the World. $9.95

 

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Discovering the Cultural Divide: My Journey to Understanding, Part 2

by Dr. Denise R. Ames

Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my forthcoming book (January 2020), Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.

Join me in this 7 part blog series in discovering how I came to studying, researching, teaching, and writing about the divide.  See the divide play out in your life as well!

Election Day, 2016

2.1Election Day, November 8, 2016, dawned bright and sunny. The promise of electing the first female U.S. President emitted an optimistic feeling floating through the air. I even got wind of it in middle of the Adriatic Sea, where I was just finishing a cruise ship lecture series. I arranged my evening to watch all the election returns in my cozy cabin, room service at my fingertips, as the cruise ship steamed its way to its final docking port in Venice, Italy.

As I settled into my viewing, I was disturbed to find that some of the early election returns were not going the Democrats’ way, as I confidently assumed would happen. North Carolina and then Florida fell early on to Donald Trump. But I confidently felt the “Big Blue Wall,” the Midwestern states that had been strongholds for Democrats for several decades, would come through.

Big Blue Wall for Democrats

Democratic “Big Blue Wall”

As several of those Midwestern strongholds fell into the red column—Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and even Wisconsin—the electoral map looked like it was hemorrhaging! Although my home state of New Mexico faithfully fell into the Democratic column, its five electoral votes didn’t make a dent in Trump’s electoral juggernaut.

2.3 2016 Electoral College VoteI could not believe what was happening. The MSNBC commentators were equally stunned, with a pained look of disbelief etched into their tired faces. The Fox News channel journalists (I could only get two news channels on the ship) were equally stunned, but understandably jubilant at the prospect of President Trump.

The surreal concession speech by Hillary Clinton was painful to watch, as her sobbing supporters huddled together. Clinton’s purple pantsuit evoked a sad reminder that 2.4 Concession Speech.jpguniting the nation would not happen under her watch. Trump’s acceptance speech was equally surreal, as the stunned family perhaps wondered a bit what they got themselves into.  My beliefs and hopes were collapsing around me. I was eager for a woman around my age to be President of the United States. This was not going to happen.

Hillary Clinton was smart, competent, experienced, and thoughtful. Although not a charismatic leader, and saddled with baggage from her and her husband’s past actions, I thought her strengths outweighed her weaknesses. Her lack of an overall, unifying vision for the country was troublesome, but I thought she would be a good transition president to a future that was uncertain and in the process of being defined. Now we had a president with no political or military experience, and appeared to be more determined to wreak havoc rather than build enduring systems.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

wviewscoverPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more about worldviews see Dr. Ames’ book Five Worldviews: How We See the World. $9.95

 

 

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