Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18: Human Rights Day

Claire R.  introduced Human Right speakers, Ms. Lisa Bek-gran, History and Government Faculty and Luke Albert, STUCO and Youth and Government President.

Good Morning,


When I was asked to speak about Human Rights, I had no clue where to begin. How do I , a kid whose just about the same age as the rest of you, tell you all about what you are inherently entitled too as people? I’m someone who has lived my whole in privilege where I haven’t had to fight for my rights. I’ve never had to second guess their safety. Then I realized it. I realized I was totally wrong. In fact, I couldn’t have approached Human Rights more wrong. You see, Human Rights aren’t about what you deserve. Human Rights are about your obligation to everyone else, that their lives are invaluable and you must treat them that way. It’s all about what you should give to others: respect, opportunity, and freedom. One of my favorite examples is the incredibly inspiring Malala Yousafzai. Malala grew up in a Taliban controlled-Swat Valley in NorthWest Pakistan. The New York Times published a documentary in which she spoke about her passion for education and proudly declared that one day she’d be a doctor. She knew the risk to saying all of this and going to school, but she also knew what it meant to countless girls being denied education and opportunity across the world. Later on her way to school, three men boarded her school bus and shot her twice once in the head. Malala then spent over three months recovering from the life-threatening wounds including being in a coma for a couple weeks. You know what she did when she was discharged from the hospital and finished with rehabilitation? She stayed home where her bravery had led the first Right to Education Bill in Pakistan. She continued her advocacy. She spoke before the United Nations in July. All of this because she understood that she had to fight for the right of all girls, all people, to have freedom and an education. She understood the respect, opportunity, and freedom all human beings deserve. So I encourage you, when you think about Human Rights, don’t think about what should be given to you but what you should give to others. Thank you.


Good morning!
Bonjour / Buenos dias / Shubh prab-haat / Zǎoshang hǎo / Guten Tag


As a history teacher...I feel obligated to lead with a bit of, well, history.   


Human rights as an ideal first appeared about 2600 years ago.  When Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon, he freed the slaves and told his subjects they would be able to worship as they chose...not something common among most of his peers in the ancient world.  The ideals associated with Cyrus spread to Greece, India, and Rome, with Aristotle and Cicero bringing us the concept of “natural law.”  Natural law asserts that certain rights are inalienable, by virtue of the human experience.  


1800 years after Cyrus, in 1215, King John of England was coerced into signing the Magna Carta, a charter of liberties and a commitment to the rule of law.  Our founding fathers looked to the Magna Carta as historical precedent for the Declaration of Independence.  


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


The French took things a step further with the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and produced an even longer list of “natural rights.”


Most of Europe seemed to agree with the concept of natural rights, at least for fellow Europeans, but proceeded to trample human rights around the globe as their empires expanded.  
In 1893, a London attorney was thrown off a train in South Africa.  His crime -- he had purchased a first class ticket and was sitting in his seat.  He would spend the rest of his life fighting for human rights.  You know him as Mahatma Gandhi.


Two world wars later, after millions and millions of deaths, mind numbing slaughter, and the subjugation of much of the population, the world came together, in part, in the form of the United Nations.  Today, the United Nations boasts 193 member nations.


Eleanor Roosevelt, as the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission,  was the driving force in creating the 1948 charter of liberties: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The goal of the declaration is “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.”


Human rights have come to mean those rights to which all humans are entitled -- the ways you can expect and deserve to be treated as a person.  The charter identifies 30 rights -- 11 of which are identified here (slides).


In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:
“Where...do universal rights begin?  ...Close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on maps of the world.  ...they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college she attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works.  Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, and equal dignity without discrimination.  Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.  Without concerted citizen action to uphold human rights close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
Our charge to you -- be an active citizen.  Protect human rights close to home.  Make a difference right here in the Casady community, Oklahoma City, the state of Oklahoma, the United States, and the world.  We wish you dignity, opportunity, and peace, always.


Modified Zulu farewell:
Go well and go safely,
Go well and go safely,
Go well and go safely,


Peace be always with you.

MD Presentation


Good morning! Middle Division Version
Bonjour / Buenos dias / Shubh prab-haat / Zǎoshang hǎo / Guten Tag


The idea of Human Rights is not all that old -- approximately 2600 years, to be exact.  And over the course of those 2600 years, we could talk about a number of people and events that have shaped our understanding of human rights.


  • Cyrus and his Cylinder -- freeing the slaves and promising religious freedom
  • efforts in Greece, India, and Rome to honor natural rights
  • Aristotle and Cicero and their attention to “natural law”
  • King John and the Magna Carta
  • the Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence
  • the French and the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen


But what are Human Rights?


Human rights have come to mean those rights to which all humans are entitled -- no matter where you are born, no matter where you live, no matter where you go to school, no matter how rich or poor you are, no matter what language you speak, no matter what religion you practice.  Human rights are the ways you can expect to be treated and deserve to be treated as a person.


In 1945, after two horrific world wars, the nations of the world came together to form the United Nations.  Today there are 193 member nations.


Eleanor Roosevelt, as the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission,  was the driving force in creating the 1948 charter of liberties: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The goal of the declaration is “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.”
The charter identifies 30 rights -- 11 of which are noted in the slides I am about to show you.


But first, what do you think should be on the list?  


I’ll give you a hint -- many will seem quite obvious.  For example, raise your hand if you think you have a right not to be tortured.  Great!  Keep your hands up if you think you should have a right to eat.  Keep your hands up, if you think you have a right to take food away from someone else.  You’re correct, theft is not a right.  


Let’s take a look at the slides…


Was there anything on the list that seemed particularly outlandish?  Surprising?  Something you would not want as a right?


I think most of the enumerated rights can be summed up in three words -- dignity, opportunity, and peace.  Or, DOP.  


Eleanor Roosevelt believed, as do I, that “...universal rights begin...close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on maps of the world.  ...in neighborhoods and schools, in factories and farms...such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, and equal dignity without discrimination.  Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.  Without concerted citizen action to uphold human rights close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”


I am going to ask you to do one thing right now.  After you complete the task, I will need you to face forward and quiet down again fairly quickly.  Here is the task -- Turn to three (not four, not five, etc.) different people near you, shake their hand, or put a hand on their shoulder and say, “I wish you DOP.”  Please begin...


And, now, we’re back.  Well done!


My charge to you after you leave Chapel today -- be an active citizen.  Protect human rights close to home.  Make a difference right here in the Casady community, Oklahoma City, the state of Oklahoma, the United States, and the world.  I wish you DOP -- dignity, opportunity, and peace, always.


Modified Zulu farewell:
Go well and go safely,
Go well and go safely,
Go well and go safely,
Peace be always with you.