When we see people persecuted by others, what is the right response? If we support our shared Universal Human Rights, we must be consistent in our respect for this for all people, including those who are persecuted and the identity groups that persecutors belong to.
The most important equation in human rights is that Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right.
The basic concept applies to any of those where we have such conflict between rights, safety, tolerance, and justice.
We cannot improve the rights of African-Americans by calling for violence against whites. We cannot help women in the world get their just role as equal partners in society by spreading hate against men. We cannot respect gay rights by seeking the destruction of religious houses of worship which reject homosexuality. These are broad examples, but of course, they apply to any group dynamics where such conflicts exist.
This may seem to be a convenient philosophy of pacifism, for those whose identity group is not in dire jeopardy. It is easy to call for such moral balance, when it is not your family’s life, your friends’ lives being threatened. When you are not on the front line of a war against your people, many will rightly question your morality and your right to respect a human right process based on peace. After all, some may say, “what did even your Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. achieve?” “Was he not killed too?” they might ask? “Did his peaceful approach solve the human rights problem in America?” These are fair and reasonable questions in simply a logical argument.
It is hard to be exposed to such grave injustices and see violence against your neighbors and even your loved ones and not call for a forceful response. Some would even view it as essential for self-preservation. It is understandable that frustrated individuals would want to form their own groups and take action to change the behavior of persecutors. But to those who take the path of force and violence, they need to understand the cost of that path.
There will always be those who will rationalize violence and hate as a method to “fight for human rights.” They will make what they consider to be logical arguments, and they may even present factual evidence that without such violent activity others will suffer even worse. They will state that “militant” behavior has long been the basis for freedom in the world, and is necessary for human rights. Around the world, they will point out to the American justice system (as flawed as it is) does not exist in many parts of the world, and using the efforts of human rights activists in America is unfair comparison to the struggles of people in other parts of the world. They will state if they don’t use force, they have no chance for justice.
Frustrated people understandably give earnest attention to such messages. They do not want to wait another year, another decade for halting human rights campaigns for freedom, while their families suffer. There is only so much patience, so much tolerance, that one can have, as it will be argued. Perhaps something more is needed, some will say. Heads will nod at the logic of such arguments.
But human rights and human rights campaigns are not based simply on logic. If that were the case, any tyrant with skilled debaters can readily argue for and against human rights using logical arguments as it suited their needs.
Human rights are primarily based on our EMPATHY for one another as fellow human beings, and the connection that our hearts have to one another. When we hear the words of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” it is not just our minds that were in unison on this – it is our hearts, our conscience, and our empathy for one another as brothers and sisters in humanity. This empathy for our fellow human beings goes to the very essence of every human rights campaign. Hearts Matter. We must reach hearts, and even change hearts to truly succeed.
We need to learn to cherish and honor our hearts as much as we cherish our minds, for it is in our hearts that the greatest hope for humanity truly lies.
“Injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” speaks to us beyond any argument of logic, beyond debater, because we simply know that this is RIGHT. Our empathy provides a moral compass to guide us to this true path for human rights.
We need to LISTEN to that MORAL COMPASS. There may be a cacophony of many words, many voices, many sounds of destruction, many sounds of injustice that we hear in the world. But as the seas of life turn stormy, we must grasp and hold tight to that MORAL COMPASS to guide us through the tragedies and difficulties our human family must face.
Our MORAL COMPASS will keep us on the right path of human rights for all. We can not defeat persecution by becoming persecutors. We can not defy hatred by promoting hatred of others. We can not stop unjust violence by seeking a path of violence ourselves.
We support human rights against persecuted because it is UNJUST – not simply to our laws, not simply to some rules, but most of all because it unjust to our HEARTS AND SOULS.
We gain public support to challenge such persecution because much of the world truly does have an inherent rejection for injustice towards our fellow human beings – no matter what their race, religion, ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation, or other identity.
We believe this because our shared universal human rights are for one human family, who are all our brothers and sisters in humanity — even when we reject and denounce the actions of extremists among them. If we have human rights campaigns based on our hearts, we cannot and we MUST NOT spread hate and violence against our fellow human beings, even those who persecute us.
We believe this because it is not simply in our laws or in minds, but most of all in our HEARTS – that we know together – we must be Responsible for Equality And Liberty.