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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Human Rights Day - December 10th

A longer post than usual - bear with me if you can...

Many of we humans now realize that environmentally the world is one - the atmosphere we breathe knows no borders and is shared, better or worse, by all. The water in my body and from my tap is the same body of water that someone is using in Djibouti or Sydney or Nepal. The oil and gas we are digging out from under the earth's skin is from one source... and is warming the planet for all of us as we burn it.

Even the human economy is one thing - look where your bananas and shirts and skirts and toys and pencils come from. Look at where your investments or retirement funds are spent.

Here's my idea: we are one group of humans and if we can attain basic human rights for every soul, we will evolve successfully. If we can't, we're likely to fail.

A good place to begin is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on December 10th, 1948. It's a standard not fully met in any nation (although Norway is pretty damn close Nerdine!). And many of the rights enshrined there are under attack as fear grows and governments 'protect' their citizens by removing our rights.

Anyhow, celebrate this wonderful vision tomorrow and if you have a few minutes go to this Amnesty link and write a letter on behalf of those who don't have the rights you have.

My daughter and her Grade 11 friends blitzed their high school last week with human rights. One day there was a poster for each of the 30 rights posted. One day, every student (800) found a piece of paper on their desk with a scenario such as this:

Imagine your uncle is involved in a peace association that your government does not approve of. One day soldiers storm your house, looking for him. When they can’t find him they kidnap your family and take you to a military camp. Imagine that they proceed to beat, torture and rape you and members of your family, even though you have no idea where your uncle is. This happened to a boy named Enrique Somanas in Mexico and happens to other people all over the world.

Everyone has the right to take part in meetings and join associations in a peaceful way. Article 20 - Universal Declaration of Human Rights

or this:
Imagine that you are traveling back to Canada from a foreign vacation. On a stopover in New York you are arrested, imprisoned and then flown to another country – without being charged with a crime and without your family being notified. After 11 months of torture and interrogation, you are released and flown home to Canada. You are never charged with anything and never given an explanation from the United States for why you were kidnapped and tortured.This is the experience of Maher Arar, a 34 year old Canadian who lives in Kamloops, BC today.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 5 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
And Thursday, they had 120 students come to school wearing black fabric over their mouths. Each had taken a vow of silence in honour of those in the world who are not free to speak. About 75% made it through the day silently. The Principal tried to stop this activity (for educational reasons) and was voted down by the teachers who agreed that if it wasn't inconvenient or uncomfortable for everyone, it wouldn't honour those who really can't speak.

I'm counting on the kids to evolve humanity in this century. You?

I am hopeful. And as long as there are activities going on in schools such as the one your daughter participated in then I think we have good cause to believe that these kids can do it.
i commented on the previous post before i read this one - yes, it will be a slow evolutionary process.

i hope the developing environmental issues don't slide us back to square one in the survival stakes!
I have little hope - but that's me ... tonight.
Until there's a groundswell of people taking to the streets again in a non-violent way, and the media, not afraid to speak out about any of the negative things going on within "any" government, are we then going to see some more baby steps, as we did in the 60s-70s.
If not, we'll keep sliding as we have, at least here in the US these past 30 + yrs ; (
I do hope though........
I really enjoyed reading about the activities of the teens at your daughter's school. That was amazing and wonderful. I love that the teachers supported them. Kudos to the school, the kids, and the teachers. There is always hope!
I am one of those kids, and I hope I don't let you down!
Octavian - glad you're visiting and I'm sure you won't let us down.
In response to your comment:

I've spent quite some time thinking about it. Have you ever read Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil"?

It sheds some interesting light on the subject. I feel like it is a part of our history of living in isolated communites that makes us feel like we can appeal to some objective standard of good and bad. Only with so much diversity it is difficult to find these same standards in our modern socieites.

This is difficult today, because people can deduce many different opinions from the same moral philosophy.

My hope is that with Informationalism I can return a kind of moral reference, but it must be chosen. One must choose that the will to survive is a good thing. Of course, if they don't, they won't be around very long to make their discussion. The closest thing I can think of to and objective good is the will to survive. It is from this will that Informationalism springs, as it seems to me the only logical course to ensure survival and progress.

In response to your other question:

These are some of my own thoughts which I am hoping will catch on with others. If we can work together to start building an environment of free discourse not bounded by moral taboos, then we can really start helping each other and ourselves.

I think it's about secrets. People keep secrets because they are afraid, or they acquire them so that they can feel powerful and make others afraid.

In Informationalism, if everybody knows, what is there to fear? Where is the oppressive power?

I've already tried to create a private sphere where those bits of data that are important to the individual but of little use to the species are preserved. After all, there must be some privacy so that we can have unique discourse.

People cannot be forced to be free. They must be educated to be so.
Great post. I am so glad those teachers stood up for those kids who protested. I hope the kids can pull through, this is a tough charge.
Has British Petroleum taken a stand on human rights? I know they are very concerned about Global Warming.
Great post Gary!
Could not agree with you more on the conclusion part-we can count on kids for the humanity to evolve!
Regards and best wishes!
II certainly hope; (in fact believe) this generation will be savvier than the last! And under the guiding candle of Amnesty to brings light into the darker aspects of our failed humanity.
Best wishes
yeah - Norway is close, but to me close isn't good enough... There's still a lot of things going on here I don't like.

I wish more schools would do what was done at your daughter's school! That was awsome!

really wonderful post...thank you...keep up your great work..

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