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.

In recognition of this notable achievement, for the month of December I will be posting a series of blogs,

“Towards 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 Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…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 

Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 9

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

Mesopotamia and Hammurabi’s Code

Some humans began to move from villages to form cities around 3500 BCE (before the Common Era) in Mesopotamia (now the area of Iraq). This movement to cities occurred

09 Mesopotamia

Ancient Mesopotamia

at different times and places around the world and resulted in more people living together in closer quarters. The rules for people living together in hunting and gathering groups or small villages were no longer meeting the needs of people living in cities, who might not be related to each other or even know their neighbors.

Thus, city dwellers began to create different rules that fit their new living conditions. Instead of passing on rules orally, the new invention of writing meant that scribes could write rules, often etched in stone to show their permanence. The early law codes show the rules for city dwellers to live by.

The earliest known written legal code is the Code of Ur-Nammu that dates to 2050 BCE. However, one of the most famous examples of a legal code is Hammurabi’s Code, named

9 2 Hammurabi Code

Code of Hammurabi

after King Hammurabi of Babylon (Iraq and Syria today), which was etched onto a seven foot slab of basalt stone in 1780 BCE. Hammurabi believed that the gods ordered him to deliver the law to his people. The code spelled out rules and punishments for breaking particular rules. However, the punishments did not always fit the crime, and some are quite harsh by today’s standards. Although these laws are hardly human rights of today, it does show the process of codifying laws that eventually evolved into human rights. The following are a few of Hammurabi’s 282 rules in the language of the day:

The Code of Hammurabi
22  If anyone is committing a robbery and is caught, then he shall be put to death.

138  If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father’s house, and let her go.

141  If a man’s wife, who lives in his house, wishes to leave it, plunges into debt, tries to ruin her house, neglects her husband, and is judicially convicted: if her husband offers her release, she may go on her way, and he gives her nothing. If her husband does not wish to release her, and if he takes another wife, she shall remain as servant in her husband’s house.

148  If a man take a wife, and she be seized by disease, if he then desire to take a second wife he shall not put away his wife, who has been attacked by disease, but he shall keep her in the house which he has built and support her so long as she lives.

195  If a son strike his father, his hands shall be hewn off.

196  If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. (An eye for an eye)

205  If the slave of a freed man strike the body of a freed man, his ear shall be cut off.

209/210  If a man strike a free-born woman so that she lose her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss. If the woman dies, his daughter shall be put to death.

229/230  If a Builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.  If it kill the son of the owner the son of that builder shall be put to death.  End]

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.

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

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.

 

Posted in awareness, differences, diversity, History, human rights, perspectives, Uncategorized, worldviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

In recognition of this notable achievement, for the month of December I will be posting a series of blogs,“Towards 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 Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…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

 Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 8

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A History and Philosophy of Human Rights
“Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people’s suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.” … Dali Lama (Tibetan Buddhism)

Ubuntu, Part 2

Family identification is extended to include a bond with the village, region, nation, and beyond. Ubuntu encourages individuals to behave in an unselfish manner and give up 7.2 Ubuntu spirittheir individual identity for their community. It strives for harmony and the spirit of sharing. For example, those who believe in Ubuntu will never allow orphans to live alone in the community. The roles of mother and father are not just tied to a single child, but all children are considered part of their family.

The concept of Ubuntu in south Africa is quite different from some Western ideas and laws. Under the Ubuntu system of law, crimes committed by one individual against another go far beyond the two individuals involved to even include their families.

4.2 worldviewsdUbuntu law tends to support solutions and punishments that bring people together instead of keep them apart. For instance, a crime of murder might lead to the creation of a bond of marriage between the victim’s family and the accused’s family. But this does not mean that the individual accused of the crime is not punished; instead, the person who committed the crime is punished twice, both inside and outside the family and social circles. The punishment for the crime can be quite severe, as the accused may have to pay a huge fine and undergo social disgrace and humiliation. It may take years of demonstrating Ubuntu before the victim’s family pardons the accused individual and wholly accepts him/her back into the community.

There is no one above the law in the Ubuntu belief system. A leader who follows Ubuntu 7.4is selfless, talks widely with others, and listens deeply to those s/he rules. The leader does not adopt a lifestyle that is more lavish than the others in the group and shares what s/he owns with them. A leader cannot impose his/her will on those s/he rules, but allows the people to lead themselves.

Royal power springs from the people. Thus, all laws made by the leader express the will of the people who must respect and obey them. African law is positive, not negative. It does not say: “Thou shalt not,” but “Thou shalt.” Laws direct how individuals and communities should behave towards each other and how punishment is meted out. The ultimate goal is to create balance and harmony in the community.

Ubuntu has a strong religious meaning, which is important for many south Africans who

8.1 Kung

!Kung in southwest Africa

have different traditions. Many Africans believe that ancestors continue to exist among the living in the form of spirits, and each individual has a link to that spirit. If you are in need, you can call on your ancestors’ spirits and they will get involved on your behalf. Therefore, it is important not only to honor your ancestors, but for you to later become an ancestor worthy of respect. For this to happen you agree to value your community’s rules, connect with current community members and respect those that have passed on. You promise to carry out Ubuntu beliefs during your lifetime.

Today, many south African rulers, for many reasons, are guilty of corruption and severe rule. This has created a wide gap between the values of most African people and their

17 Kung woman, Africa, photo Izla

!Kung woman

rulers, and violent conflict has often resulted. In order for peace to triumph, some African activists call for a new beginning, in which the people of Africa are able to reject conflict, ideas of superiority and dominance, and bring about a culture of peace, inclusiveness, and security for all. This change draws on the cultural heritage of Ubuntu.

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.

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

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.

 

 

 

Posted in awareness, differences, diversity, History, human rights, indigenous, perspectives, Uncategorized, worldviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

In recognition of this notable achievement, for the month of December I will be posting a series of blogs,

“Towards 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 Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…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

Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 7

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A History and Philosophy of Human Rights

“Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people’s suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.” … Dali Lama (Tibetan Buddhism)

Ubuntu, Part 1

7.1 UbuntuThe African philosophy of Ubuntu (humanness) contributes to modern human rights ideas. Ubuntu (pronounced as uu-Boon-too) is a cultural view of what it is to be human and focuses on people’s commitment and relationship with each other. The Ubuntu philosophy encourages respect, sharing, helpfulness, caring, unselfishness, and serving the community.

The word has its roots in the Bantu languages of Africa, which spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa beginning around 3,000-2,500 BCE and continues today, especially in the

7.2 Ubuntu spirit

Ubuntu spirit

southern part of Africa. Ubuntu forms the basis of the African philosophy of life, which is played out in daily life experiences. It is used everyday to settle different levels of disagreements and conflicts. According to Ubuntu, there is a common bond between us all, and it is through this bond that we discover our own humanity.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Tutu (b. 1934) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for speaking out against apartheid in South Africa. He movingly describes the philosophy of Ubuntu …

7.3 Tutu with Obama

Desmond Tutu with Pres. Obama

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness, about wholeness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas we are all connected and what each one of us does affects the whole world. When we do well, it spreads out to the whole of humanity. A person with Ubuntu is open, compassionate, hospitable, warm, and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”

The concept of Ubuntu defines the individual in terms of his/her multiple relationships 7.4with others. It follows the Zulu (a tribe in southern Africa) saying “A person is a person through (other) persons.” This means that a person who acts with humanity towards all will eventually be an ancestor worthy of respect and admiration. Those who uphold the belief of Ubuntu throughout their lives will, in death, achieve a connection with those still living. The three following sayings form the practice of Ubuntu and are deeply rooted in traditional African political philosophy.

Traditional Ubuntu Sayings

  1. To be human is to uphold one’s humanity by recognizing the humanity of others.
    2. If and when one is faced with a choice between wealth and the safeguarding of the life of another, then one should [choose] the preservation of life.
    3.  The king owes all his powers to the will of the people under him.

Visitors have a special place in the hearts of Africans. According to their tradition, they do not need to burden themselves with carrying belongings as they travel. It is part of the African custom to make every individual visitor as comfortable as possible. 7.5Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, explained, “When a traveler through a country would stop at a village, he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food and entertain him.”

In the African nation of Zimbabwe, when individuals follow Ubuntu rules they do not call elderly people by their given name; instead, they are called by their family name. The purpose of this tradition is to reject individualism. The individual identity is replaced with the larger group identity that encircles a person.

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.

1.5 book

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

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.

 

 

 

 

Posted in awareness, differences, diversity, History, human rights, indigenous, perspectives, politics, Public blog, Uncategorized, worldviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

In recognition of this notable achievement, for the month of December I will be posting a series of blogs, “Towards 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 Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…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

Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 6

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A History and Philosophy of Human Rights

“Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people’s suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.” … Dali Lama (Tibetan Buddhism)

4.1 Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

Indigenous Peoples

The history of human rights starts with indigenous peoples, after all, their way of life has a very long history. For thousands and even millions of years humans have lived as hunters and gatherers (foragers), much longer than our modern way of life! Did they have human rights? They did not as we think of them today; in fact, their emphasis was on group rights rather than individual rights. But they needed to share with each other in order to survive, and this emphasis on sharing shaped their political, economic, religious, and social values and beliefs.

6.1 indigenous rightsMany indigenous societies had ways of living to insure that all members of their group got along and lived long and productive lives. In order for them to accomplish this, they promoted two key values: cooperation and sharing. Parents have told their children to share toys and play nicely for many years, but indigenous peoples knew that they must get along and share in order to survive. They had no other choice. Therefore, their thinking about human rights was to make sure that they all shared on a fairly equal basis.

Indigenous people did not want any one individual to stand out from the rest, even though everyone has different abilities and talents. For example, all the young men in an indigenous camping group were not equal hunters; some were better than others. Just like today, there are star basketball or football players. But the group had to make sure that the young man who was the best hunter didn’t get a “big head” or an inflated ego. If he did, this could cause the other young male hunters to get angry at him for his prideful ways and fights would break out. Conflict would cloud their otherwise friendly relations.

18 !Kung Elderly Woman

Indigenous !Kung elder, southwest Africa

The elders, the leaders of most indigenous groups of people, would know from their experience that they needed to tamp down the young man’s prideful ways, and they knew how to do it. For instance, they would not praise the young man if he killed a meaty deer. In fact, they might ridicule him instead. They might say, “Why did you bring that pitiful looking animal to our camp, it is hardly worth butchering. You call yourself a hunter?” Thus, the group leaders did not reward or praise individual talents and skills. The young man would quickly realize that his smug behavior had been out of line with the norms of the group and he had to change his behavior or risk further shame or even punishment from the elders. The young hunter would not get to eat all of the deer that he bagged; instead, he would be required to share his catch with other group members. He would automatically share his catch with those who could not hunt, such as small children and the elderly.

This true story of an indigenous group of people, the !Kung of southwestern Africa, shows that they did not think of individual human rights as a value but rather thought of

07 Hadzabe youth learning to hunt

Hadzabe, Africa

human rights as keeping the group together so all could survive. Their high priority values were sharing, cooperation, and devaluing the individual in favor of the group; all were necessary for the continuation of their way of life. Thus, the Western notion of individual, civil, political, and economic human rights would be completely foreign to them. They more closely identified with group rights.

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.

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in awareness, differences, diversity, History, human rights, indigenous, perspectives, Public blog, Uncategorized, worldviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

In recognition of this notable achievement, for the month of December I will be posting a series of blogs,“Towards 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 Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…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

 Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 5

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A History and Philosophy of Human Rights
“Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people’s suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.” … Dali Lama (Tibetan Buddhism)

4.1 Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

Ethic of Reciprocity or the Golden Rule

At this point you may think that the concept of human rights is a great idea, and you are happy that human rights rules protect you and your fellow citizens. Yet, you may be wondering why practically the whole world accepts the principles of human rights.

Despite the diversity of beliefs, there is a growing agreement that all humans are equal and all should enjoy basic human rights. Why is this happening? One answer is the Ethic of Reciprocity, better known as the Golden Rule. It is a worldwide ethical code that states that one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. In other words, one must treat others as one would like to be treated.

5.2 golden ruleThe Golden Rule or the Ethic of Reciprocity has its roots in almost all world cultures, religions, ethical systems, and philosophies. A key element of the Golden Rule is that a person treats all people, not just members of his/her in-group, with consideration.

Almost all societies have passages in their oral traditions, holy texts, philosophies, or writings of their leaders that promote this ethic. The Golden Rule is in the philosophies and oral traditions of ancient India, Africa, Greece, the Middle East, the Americas, China, and indigenous peoples. Philosophers and religious figures have stated it in different ways, but it is basically the same moral message. One example familiar in North America is the Golden Rule of Christianity attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in the Biblical book of Luke which says “Do onto others as you would wish them do onto you.”  5.3 golden rule with key

The Ethic of Reciprocity is an important moral truth. It essentially says that people share inborn human rights, simply because they are human. The Ethic is a basis for the modern concept of human rights. Since world citizens share a common world ethic – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – they are able to directly connect with core beliefs and values of other people around the world. In 1993, the Parliament of the World’s Religions enshrined the Ethic of Reciprocity in the “Declaration toward a Global Ethic.”

The development of human rights is based upon religious, cultural, philosophical and legal teachings through history. Traditions from indigenous people, ancient documents, religious traditions, and philosophical writings have all contributed to the body of human rights. This next several blogs expand on the idea that there is a global ethic of human rights that holds the same basic meaning.3.2 religions

Therefore, the concept of human rights comes from many different traditions. Let us turn to finding out how diverse traditions from around the world have created and carried out what we call human rights today, and how diverse contributions have blended together to create this concept. I have arranged the categories of contributors in a loose chronological order.

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.

 

 

 

Posted in awareness, cultural divide, differences, diversity, human rights, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

In recognition of this notable achievement, for the month of December I will be posting a series of blogs, “Towards 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 Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…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

 Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 4

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

Two Worldviews: Eastern and Western

Many people do not consider group rights, such as the dignity and right to exist of indigenous peoples, as important as individual civil and political rights. Why were individual rights preferred over group rights in 1948? It depends, of course, on the 2.2preferences of those who drafted the document, and they were primarily from the West (U.S. and Western Europe) where individualism was valued over group rights.

When studying human rights it is beneficial to look at the issue from two perspectives or what I call worldviews. One is a Western worldview, and the other is the view that has traditionally been more important to people from Asia, Africa, and indigenous peoples that I will call an Eastern worldview. Both worldviews go back thousands of years. Although this is a simplification of a complex topic, it is important to understand that there is a difference between the two worldviews.

The Western worldview emphasizes individualism: individual accomplishment and responsibility, thinking of oneself as separate from one’s family or others. An individual is a separate and independent being with distinct desires, goals, needs, talents, 4.1 Western worldviewpersonality, intellect, and desires. An individual is rewarded for accomplishments because s/he is a self-starter or hard-worker. Likewise, failure is the individual’s fault for being lazy, undisciplined, or not talented. An individual stands on his/her own two feet, separate and apart from others. Since individualism is of utmost importance in this worldview, global political bodies believe each person should be granted individual rights.

The Eastern worldview has traditionally emphasized the collective or group as more important than the individual. The significance of the family, group, clan, tribe, or nation overshadows individual achievements, desires, goals, or dreams. The Eastern worldview emphasizes an individual’s responsibility to the well-being and stability of the family, group, or nation, rather than to his/her own individual rights. 4.2 worldviewsd

At the time of the writing of the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the Western worldview was especially dominant. The influence of the West through imperialism and trade had spread throughout the world and Westerners were eager to make their values the norm for the rest of the world to follow. They have been somewhat, but not completely, successful in this crusade. A country such as India, which traditionally has held to the Eastern worldview, has accepted some Western values and blended them into their own unique traditions such as a democracy. The same can be said for China, Africa, and the Middle East. Yet, the Western worldview has not wiped out the Eastern worldview; it continues around the world.

4.3 yin yangThe addition of the third generation of rights is recognition of the importance of group rights, which figure so notably in the Eastern worldview. Some people argue that the emphasis on individual rights has gone too far, and responsibility for the family, community, and global commons has been ignored. One of the consequences of the Western worldview is the worsening environment which is the result of encouraging the individual to amass consumer goods to reward successes and satisfy individual desires.

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.

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

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.

 

Posted in awareness, differences, diversity, History, human rights, perspectives, populism, Uncategorized, worldviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

In recognition of this notable achievement, for the month of December I will be posting a series of blogs, “Towards 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 Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…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

2.5 UDHR

Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 3

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

 Why Human Rights?

An important question still remains: How did we get our human rights? Or, put another way: Why do we have human rights? To answer these questions we will look historically at three justifications for human rights: God-given, human morality, and evolution of laws.

1.  God-given or Innate Rights

Thomas Jefferson famously claimed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776 that people “are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Those that support God-given rights wish

3.1 Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

to put less emphasis on human decisions and legal action, and instead they argue that humans are born with rights that God gave to them. In this view, God is the supreme lawmaker and he passed on basic human rights to his subjects.

God-given rights must be very general, such as life, liberty, and freedom, so that they can be applied across thousands of years of human history, not just recent history. However, the most recent human rights are numerous and specific, such as freedom of religion or right to a fair trial.

Even if people are born with God-given rights, an explanation of how we moved from general rights to specific rights is needed. Also billions of people throughout the world do 3.2 religionsnot believe in the sort of God that gives rights to humans, such as the justice-wielding God found in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Thus, a God-given reason for human rights does not necessarily appeal to them.

2. Inborn Human Morality

Human groups have sets of morals, which are important norms of behavior for that group to follow. These moral codes contain specific norms, such as a prohibition against the intentional murder of an innocent person and specific values, such as placing a value on human life. If most human groups forbid murder, these norms can make up a human right: the right to life. If this reasoning is used, human rights are basic moral norms that all humans groups share.

This line of reasoning seems sensible but contains some problems. First, it seems unlikely that all human groups are against torture, discrimination, or unfair trials. Nations and cultures hold different views on these topics. Human rights laws are supposed to change existing norms that do not support human rights, not just describe the existing moral situation. 2.2Second, not all societies and/or cultures support individual rights; many consider group rights as more important. Third, human rights are mainly about the obligations of governments, which have not historically considered these rights as important. Think of the arbitrary rule of the Roman emperors, Genghis Khan, or Nazi Germany.

3.  Evolved as Norms of National and International Law

The third way in which human rights have come about is through a steady and continual building of norms of acceptable human behavior and actions that have evolved into national and international law. At the international level, according to this view, human rights norms exist because governments have turned treaties into international law.

Human rights norms exist at the national level because legislatures have passed laws, judges have decided cases, or laws have been enacted through customs, such as English Common Law in the U.S. and UK. For example, in the U.S. the 13th Amendment to the3.3 13th amendment Constitution declared slavery illegal. Different countries passed similar restrictions against slavery. The human right prohibiting slavery exists in both national and international laws. Human rights have progressed through a sometimes painstakingly slow process into our international awareness. [figure 3]

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.

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

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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