We have to believe in our rights to make them real. In human societies, change can seem slow. Recognition can be elusive. Expectations are raised. Hopes are easily dashed. But we have to keep working on it, taking the rights we have on paper and keep trying to apply them in practice.
Whether it’s our human rights, our rights at work, or our civil rights – these aren’t things anyone can afford to take for granted. Our rights are a work in progress.
Today is Human Rights Day, marked by the United Nations on the anniversary of the 1948 signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year is also the 50th anniversary of two international covenants – on human rights and political and civil rights.
These documents set out “the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.”
It seems fitting that today also marks the day that the first special plane of Syrian refugees coming to Canada has arrived and hundreds of people start their new life here this week.
We know that international borders can make the difference between a chaotic, dangerous, and traumatizing life, and the chance for a calm, safe, prosperous existence. And human rights should apply in all states regardless of borders.
When it is impossible for people to achieve their basic human rights, it is natural for them to do whatever they can, including moving away from everything they know, to get access to resources we all need to live.
If those global citizens can do that, we can look at ourselves and examine our rights, how to fight for them, and how to always keep believing in them.