Human Rights Day


Human Rights Day

Today, December 10, is International Human Rights Day.  The day commemorates the UN's ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.  After the horrors of two world wars, the UN, in its infancy, determined that an international document on human rights was needed if the atrocities of those two wars were to be avoided in the future.

Using the British Bill of Rights, the Bill of Rights for the United States, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen as templates, a document of 30 articles was written and ultimately approved unanimously by all present.  The text of the Declaration can be read at

Having a document that reminds us as nations, as human beings how we ought to behave with each other, was and is a great first step toward living well with each other.  But as Eleanor Roosevelt, who worked on the Declaration, said of 'documents expressing ideals,' they "carry no weight unless the people know them, unless the people understand them, unless the people demand that they be lived."  (Quoted in  "A World Made New:  Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," by Mary Ann Glendon.)

The same might be said of our own Christian manifesto on human rights, the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.  It's great to be able to quote some of Jesus' gems like, "Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you," or "Love your neighbors as yourselves."  But what good is knowing what Jesus said if we aren't living it?

Today as the world reminds itself of its commitment to see every person as a human being, we might also remind ourselves of how important it is to live what we know.  "Love your enemies" isn't just an empty phrase.  It's a road map to true world peace...if we live it. 

Blessings for the journey,