It's our responsibility to fight for and defend the human rights of others.
What are human rights?
It's a simple question that can have a somewhat complex answer. It delves into issues of politics, economics, and even sociology.
Here's how the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights defines it:
"Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible."
At their core, human rights are a set of beliefs applicable to all people, ensuring that everyone is treated fairly, justly, and equally.
Human rights apply to all people, too — even ones we don't like.
An awesome animation by RightsInfo lays out the basics of human rights. From their animation:
So basically, everyone.
The fight for human rights has been going on for centuries, too.
As the animation explains, marginalized groups tend to be ... well ... marginalized. That is, they're treated as lesser than groups that happen to be in power. As most of Western history has been ruled mostly by straight, white men, those men have kind of called the shots for years — for better or for worse.
Here are some crazy human rights facts:
In the U.S., it wasn't until the second half of the 19th century that we passed an amendment saying it's not OK to own people (and decades longer for that to be enforced). That's about as basic as human rights get, and it took nearly 90 years after our country's founding to get that far.
And, it wasn't until the 20th century that women gained the right to vote in our representative democracy, and not until the 1960s that racially based barriers to voting were barred by law. Legal protections barring discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin also weren't introduced until the 1960s.
It's our responsibility to fight for the human rights of all people.
As the video explains, it's kind of embarrassing that it's taken this long to acknowledge just the most basic of rights. There's still a long way to go before society adopts and enforces full human rights. Even then, legal protections don't necessarily mean we will all magically live in a warm, inviting, and accepting place.
But it's our responsibility as global citizens to fight for and defend the human rights of all people, to push back against discrimination, and to create a better tomorrow.