September 27, 2011- Reaching for Redemption: A Universal “Religion”

Of all the liberties in the world, the most indispensable is Human Rights. Be they civil, political, economic, social, or cultural, human rights affect every possible area of human life. Human rights are universal, impartial, and indivisible; therefore, granting every person on the planet dignity, equality, and value, regardless of religion, status, gender, race, nationality or other distinction.

Many global organizations have advocated rigorously for securing human rights laws and standards over the years, yet the expansion of these violations and abuses continue to emerge and escalate. The recognition and necessity of human rights proves to us time and again, how the human mind and spirit connect. Human rights are a vital part of how people interrelate with others at all levels in society – beginning with family, schools, community, the workplace, in politics and in international relations. Our accountability as individuals goes far beyond being polite on the street; we must also be responsible and involved in exercising our rights as well as the rights of others.

Throughout the history of human rights, discussions of ethics, justice, and dignity began as early as the ancient civilizations of Babylon, India and China. They contributed to the laws of Roman and Greek society and are fundamental to Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, Islamic, and Jewish principles. In 1776, the American Declaration of Independence was signed and based on the understanding that specific rights, such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” were foremost to all people. Fifteen years later in 1791, the United States Bill of Rights reiterated these values which recognized freedom of speech, religion, and the press in its Constitution as well as the right to “peaceable” assembly, private property and a fair trial. On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR] was agreed to by the nations of the world that established basic rights and freedoms of all men, women, and children.

In recent decades, the increased knowledge of human rights has empowered more people to ACT. A candid expression of this activism took place outside the Jackson Prison in Georgia on September 21, 2011. More than one million activists and supporters signed a petition in lieu of the emancipation of Troy Anthony Davis. Even one million was not enough to call a halt to a blatant act of brutal injustice on an innocent man, and so I had to question with provocation the integrity of a “so called” system of evenhandedness. “Where were these civil liberties on that day?”

For 22 consecutive years, Troy Davis was condemned to death row, despite the numerous amount of indications that proved him to be not guilty. Despite his relentless struggle for freedom and fairness, he was executed by lethal injection at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison in Butts County, Georgia on September 21st. Oddly enough, this same day is globally known as the International Day of Peace or Peace Day; but that day was by far peaceful, it was a day of exploited power and the detestation and injustice for one human spirit.

When I see Troy Davis, I see my son, my brother, a close friend, or my father [who died on this very day as well and at the age of 42]. The gravity of this calamity left me feeling quite perplexed [and frankly revolted], but with a considerable sense of responsibility. The thought-provoking effect of this story teaches us that more advocacies are needed to fight for human rights and end the death penalty; an order that Amnesty International describes as, “A cruel, brutalizing, unreliable, unnecessary and hugely expensive activity for no measurable gain.” The Human Rights organization also stated, “The death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it. The sooner US politicians begin to find the political courage to educate public opinion rather than hide behind it, the better.” [Source: http://www.amnestyusa.org]

Many global organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Human Right and Equal Opportunity Commission continue to advocate for the rights and justice of human life. Aside the innocence of Troy Davis and too many to count stands Lena Baker, an African American mother of three, who was the only woman in history electrocuted at the Georgia State Prison in 1945; in Burma [officially known as Myanmar], over 10 thousand students, Buddhist monks, and other civilians were killed in a series of massacres and protest clampdowns; in Israel, the failure to uphold human rights and terrorist attacks against the Jewish state continue; in Australia, Aborigines, the poorest group, suffer from many prejudices and preventable diseases, and around the globe, from Europe to Asia to the Middle East to North America, racism is never-ending. [Source: http://www.globalissues.org]

The undefeatable amount of courage, faith, resilience, and inner stillness Troy Davis preserved in the midst of his foreseeable circumstance can teach us the valuable lesson that all things in life are transitory. The body in which our spirit dwells, the beautiful home we return to each day, the comfortable vehicles we drive, even the family and friends we cherish the most – will all someday be far removed from our corporal side of existence. Surrounded by an unjust system that is swiftly degenerating, we should better assimilate the need for spiritual awareness and the sole purpose for our journey here on Earth.

In his last words, Troy Davis stated, “I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing joy. I can’t even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from all of you; it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty. This is not a case about Troy Davis; this is a case about Justice and the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail.”

Civic action should be employed on all our parts; young or old, rich or poor, male or female. The sovereignty for human rights must be a universal language that we all speak, regardless of faith, creed or color. We MUST share our voices and support our standards on the right to life, free speech and freedom of religion, rights to health, education, and an adequate standard of living, freedom from torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment, and the rights to a fair trial.

Despite whom we are or where we are, universally, we all want the same things: physical security, freedom from suffering and freedom from unreasonable restraint for ourselves and our families, equality, fairness, and the opportunity to reach our greatest potential. By teaching the young the significance and power of advocating for human rights, we can place these ideas into practice to help create the kind of society we ultimately want to live in.

Reference commentaries of November 9, 2010:Proactive Presence [The Effectiveness of Change] and September 21, 2010: Sapphire Synergy

Love, Light, and Liberation for your Tuesday.

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