Thoughts on Human Rights Day

world human rights day

It can be difficult in this run up to the festive season to stand back from the vortex of commercial pressure and expectations imposed by others and ourselves to take stock of where we are and what is happening in our amazing world. 2017 has been a rollercoaster of a year on so many levels. So much has happened close to home, and further afield.

Recalling some of the harrowing images of refugees and immigrants, and the desperate risks they have undertaken, is upsetting. The anguish and torment suffered is unimaginable. Today is the 70th anniversary of the Human Rights Day, marking the occasion when the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This milestone document proclaimed the inalienable rights to which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Over the past seventy years the dignity of millions has been uplifted, and the foundation for a more just world has been laid. While its promise is yet to be fully realised, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice, and human dignity.

The principles enshrined in the Declaration empower us all, and are as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives to uphold the rights that protect us all, and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings.  

Meditation refines our sensibilities and gives us the ability to view our world more clearly, without any ‘fuzzy thinking’ or filters. The ‘smoke and mirrors’ that deceive and manipulate us are no longer effective, and we begin to see things differently. One of those things is the way we see and regard ourselves. If we develop the ability to be less harsh on ourselves, to speak more kindly and compassionately to ourselves, then it becomes so easy to sincerely and honestly deal with others.

As we scurry along our high streets, we can each remember to see the invisible, the people less fortunate than ourselves, who have the same rights as us to live their lives freely and happily, but who cannot through circumstances often beyond their control. And we can ask ourselves what action, no matter how small, we can take to make a difference to someone else.

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Anthony Thompson