A Call To Action

Lia Scala, Reporter

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While many are preparing for a festive holiday season full of delicious cookies, lights, decorations, and laughter, it is important to remember how blessed every citizen is to be able to call the United States their home. There are many who are not given their basic human rights let alone share the same privileges as we do.

Human Rights Day is observed on December 10 and commemorates the date when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948.

There are numerous amounts of problems today concerning human rights. Senior Cassidy Rubin said, “I think the biggest problem in our society is that people cannot respect each other’s differences. People judge, and they act off of those judgements. People will say that they accept people but still avoid them at all costs. People need to learn how to coexist. Growing up, I was very religious and homeschooled so I had a very sheltered environment. No one ever mentioned to me that there was a difference between a boy/girl light skinned/dark skinned. I was just a kid everyone else was just a kid. So as I grew up, it never made sense to me that people would base their judgements off any physical differences or even moral differences.”

Junior Sam Amodeo said, “I feel that some problems are that people aren’t having their rights respected enough, and this is causing problems whereas people get upset over not being heard or not being respected. This results in so much national angst. I can’t imagine it’s harder than just respecting other’s opinions without trying to get them on your side.”

Senior Nate Hillyer said “A large part of the problem is what people allow to slide. It is ridiculous what people will ignore, as long as it’s from their friends. I’ve seen so many cases of people who are usually socially aware of allowing their friends to say something harmful to others without so much as acknowledging it. This perpetuates whatever harmful mentality this person has, and when the people around this person hear these things they accept it without question.”

There are many instances where human rights come into play. Senior Sophie Impellitteri stated, “When I think of human rights violations, I immediately think of Aleppo. That’s a clear example, and I think the United States and the United Nations could be doing more to help those people. It’s sad that people can’t agree to stop shooting at each other long enough to get food to starving children. That’s just a specific example, there are obviously many more, but broadly speaking I think that anytime people don’t have access to food, shelter, or water it is a violation against human rights, even if it’s not a direct violation by any one person or group. The fact is that there’s enough wealth and resources in this world that no one should ever be hungry. I don’t have a big solution or plan to combat these problems, but it’s a huge issue. Our world is more than capable of solving these problems. Additionally, I think education is a human right, which means that it’s everyone’s responsibility to help every child receive an education.”

Senior Margaret Lincoln said, “I think there are a lot of ways you can define human rights issues. There are things like gender equality, and the right to marry whomever one pleases like with the LGBT+ community but also things like the right to an education, the right to have a safe home, the right to have clean water, the right to one’s own body (to not be sold into sexual slavery), and things of this nature that many in the United States take for granted. I think a lot of the things mentioned in the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] are still relevant today, which is honestly so sad since this declaration came out long ago, and people are still fighting for their basic rights.”

Many cannot comprehend why there are conflicts over human rights. Rubin stated, “The fact that people believe that someone else should be held to different standards than themselves because of something irrelevant like the pigment of their skin has never made sense to me. If it is one person’s right them everyone should also have it.”

Solutions prove to be more complex than a single answer, however, with many different ideas some solution could be reached. Amodeo commented,“I honestly don’t know how our country can fix it without angering another group of people. I don’t think you can solve a problem that big without making someone angry. I do believe that we can come to a compromise somehow. I’m not quite sure, but I think time will tell us how.”

Impellitteri replied, “There is no single solution, but it’s possible to come up with many, and this problem is something that needs to be actively worked on. In my everyday life, I don’t’ see human rights violated. I think that’s part of the problem because it can be so far away and so out of sight that it’s easy to ignore and therefore nobody does anything. Many of us are culprits to this phenomenon, but it’s wrong and we should all be thinking about how to solve this problem, realize how much we have, and find ways to help where we can.

Rubin stated, “I don’t know what we can do to fix it. I don’t think a law or amendment could change society’s behavior. I believe that the only thing each of us can do is make the choice to be accepting and be appreciative of everyone in hopes that this positivity will spread.”

There are many solutions to these recurring problems regarding human rights. Lincoln said, “I think the best way to fix these problems is through more education such as Human Rights Day. A lot of people are unaware of just how many people do not have their basic rights, which those of us in the United States take for granted. By just googling ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights,’ you can learn so much from so many people who are educated in the topic. I’m a firm believer that education is always the first step to making a change. Nothing can happen if everyone’s head is buried in the sand. I’m blessed to say that I’ve never personally experienced nor seen any human with their rights violated.”

The change can begin now. Hillyer stated, “Social change starts with small things like this. Never allow your friends, or anyone for that matter, to say racist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise discriminatory language in your presence. These are all prominent problems in American society, and the process for change starts on an individual level by examining one’s own subconscious, preconceived notions, and unlearning them while helping those around you to do the same to destigmatize society. To make human rights more heard, allies need to listen to and amplify the words of the minorities and call for change anywhere injustice exists.”

Not enough help is being given to those who need it. Impellitteri stated, “Our government has a lot of power to help, but at the very least they’re rhetoric should be guided by helping theses people in ways we can, rather than acting like only our issues that directly affect us are important.”

There are many takeaway messages that the community should hear. Lincoln reiterated, “Human Rights Day is a great step in the right direction. I think by talking about it, instead of trying to sweep it under the rug or ignore it is a great start. We need to talk about human rights violations in schools and explain to kids what that means exactly. Again, education is important. We need to talk about it, so we can deal with it. If the United States can breed a generation of people who know about human rights violations and are outraged by them, then people will start to take initiative. This problem with human rights violations needs to be made personal, and we need to realize that things like this are happening in our world and in our reality, not just in developing countries halfway across the world.”

Rubin said, “Actions are going to speak louder than words, smiles are contagious, and every action matters. I think America just needs a call to action.”

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