Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dissertation on Human Rights

Dissertation on Human Rights

Having a right means that others have an obligation to respect that right. It is a privilege that is attained by being exactly what the right pertains to or whom the right is offered to. For example, an “artist’s” rights are for the artist alone, as long as the person is an artist he has those rights, which others have to take into account and comply with fully. Therefore, human rights, refers to rights of anyone who fits under the category of humans. Human rights, has no other distinction except for being human, so there is an equal amount of rights for everyone that is “human.” If there are more rights offered for one person than the other whereas both are under the category of “humans” it is going beyond just human rights and entering a more specific realm of rights. To begin with, rights are not a written code or law, however the laws itself is directly influenced by the rights of certain persons, the law does not directly influence human rights, in terms of existence of new rights.

Human rights have a correlation with human nature and with human nature being similar throughout cultures, similar human rights reigns same throughout most countries and can be thought of as absolute, rather than relative. But human rights can be very subjective because of the diversity of beliefs throughout different cultures. There is not really a complete absolute list of human rights that is in every culture but there is some sort of a consistency of underlying ideas that are similar throughout cultures. Because of that, sometimes human rights can be perceived as something that is very unclear as to what it really is. It can be confusing and demanding when trying to draw out a human right that is cross-cultural that everyone can adhere to. Human rights are usually made according to the culture and beliefs yet there a many rights that are cross-cultural because it is essential for the survival of man.


The most basic explanation of the purpose of human rights is to bring every person into equality with one another. Human rights calls for all peoples to be equal and to be treated equally. Metaphorically speaking, human rights, levels the playing field and is present so that everyone has an equal opportunity in life and does not step on each other’s toes. Equality is the goal of human rights and anything that takes away from equality is dehumanizing. It deprives the human of qualities that make them human, such as individuality and compassion. Therefore, these rights come from the understanding of the human and poses the question of what is, being human? Humans can be categorized in general, as being a member of the species homo sapiens or more specifically as someone who can think and make decisions. Once again human rights defined, can be very subjective. Therefore, the best way to approach Human rights is from the United Nations perspective, which is an international organization that is comprised of most the countries of the world, excluding tribal people. It comprises of many different cultures taking into consideration of all the beliefs of many peoples. The United Nations composed a list of Human rights, which applies to everyone who is part of the Homo sapiens species. It is mostly recognized by all the nations yet some countries do not agree with some of the rights because they are too influenced by the western culture. These rights can be broken down into three different parts, the individual, community and implementive rights.

Because equality is what human rights stand for, discrimination and oppression are the things that stand out when thinking of Human rights because these actions oppose human rights. Discrimination and oppression keeps the goal of equality from being accomplished because it makes one person better than the other. It can also give more power to one individual more than the other. In terms of human rights it dehumanizes the person or people group being discriminated. Anything that makes one person lesser than the other, does not respect human rights. Things such as racism and sexism is a direct opposition to human rights; along with things that are more subtle like an individual’s action, which in itself is pretty neutral in content and may be for the good of him/herself but may disturb the other person’s rights, so it also goes against human rights. Social issues are termed as discrimination takes place. The realm of human rights continues to get broken into various subtopics and different social issues such as racism. In the social issue of human rights there a much agreement in different schools of thought. Protestant, Catholic and even atheistic beliefs and thoughts on human rights issues are pretty much aligned. There is not much to argue about the basic ideas of human rights, issues that pertain to the existence of man but as the ideas broaden past the essentials, there are a few things that differ among these camps. Ideas about whether the rights should surround and be more concerned about the individual or the community, conflict the rights of the human in these different religious and non-religious factions. Other aspects, like who makes the rights and the origin of the rights, tend to differ among different belief groups.

Martin Luther King, a protestant, thought on human rights was based on the scriptures. He bases his whole human rights ideals on the basis that all men were created equal under God. Martin Luther King’s idea of when human rights were being fulfilled was when a community of people that may be different superficially, loves one another. His thoughts on human rights come from the scripture specifically taken from Mark 12:31 where Jesus speaks of the second greatest commandment where he commands everyone to love their neighbors as themselves. Equality is shown in this verse by the love that is reciprocal of the love that one has for himself. Thus, going along with the universal idea that Human rights is about equality. Martin Luther King believed that laws were directly correlated with rights, that its job was to protect the subject of the rights. Martin Luther King believed that love was the underlying right of humans because God commanded humans to love one another. His believes of human rights were communal instead of individualistic because of love’s nature being relational. He was prompted to push for human rights in issues such as racism because he saw inequality, which meant that there was no love. Thus, the right to be loved or human rights was being violated. King’s human rights ideas although, implemented very specifically to racism, would work for any other issues pertaining to human rights.

John Langan, a catholic author’s ideas about human rights is based on the community rather than the individual. He believes human rights are for the benefit of all people rather than for that individual. His ideas of Human rights come from the scriptures particularly the verse, in Genesis 1:27, where it speaks of man being created in the image and likeness of God. Langan believes that Human rights is, God given and it is distinguished by God and not by humans. Langan ideas are very logical as he looks at social issues practically. His idea about human rights are tangible, he gives practical means of which the rights of the human can be fulfilled. He stresses the goal of making society better and having an environment where humans can thrive. He makes references to Pope John the XXIII in his encyclical Pacem in Terries, Peace on earth, a document in human rights and goes along with the communal theme. He thoughts on who these human rights pertain to are all peoples in the human species, yet makes specific reference to people who have less in this world. He believes these human rights are more for those who are being discriminated, and those who have less like the poor. His whole the theme of human rights is on equality.

William Schulz, Robin Fox, Francis Fukuyama, atheists believe that human rights is one of community. They believe that human rights change through time and place. But along with that belief, they believe that there is a commonality throughout the culture and times. They believe that there is no correlation of human nature and human rights. These authors believe human rights are there to protect man from his human nature. The human right to live protects things such as violence in human nature that can be destructive. The authors do not believe in natural, God given rights, but they believe that human rights are defined after human nature, and its job is to keep humans in order and productive. They do not believe in a set of human rights that is absolute but rather, relative. These author’s ideas about the rights of humans is based on the purpose of man. They believe that human rights are adapted accordingly to what the purpose and the end result of the human being are going to be. Their sure thoughts on Human rights are solely based on the physical and superficial, things like the right to life. Otherwise, they think that the other rights differ from culture to culture. It is a very one-dimensional view of rights.

These authors although having different backgrounds, all believe in human rights. Although the Christian views, catholic and protestant are more similar, the atheist also believes in rights that a human has. The atheist authors are skeptical though about having natural rights. They all believe that these rights do not pertain to one people group but to all peoples. One thought that reigns in all these author’s writings are the sense of equality; that these “rights” are there to bring equality to all people. There is not a great sense of individualism in all these authors even, in the atheistic view on human rights. There seems to be a dependency on community when it comes to human rights. That rights exist because there is more than one person that lives on this earth. That human rights is not just for the greater good of the society but rather human rights is to sustain society so that it does not deconstruct itself. Human rights is something that is very unselfish, as shown in King’s idea of loving others as themselves and Langan’s idea which focus’ on the greater good of the community. These authors point the same direction from different places. One author’s idea comes from more of an emotional avenue while the other comes from a mental thought based view and the final comes from the physical view yet they all revolve around equality. This shows a significant similarity in human rights in various backgrounds.

I believe that human rights are God given and its purpose is not just for the good of the individual but also for the good of others and for the glory of God. I think “human rights” has so much correlation of being “saved” or becoming a Christian. Similar to Martin Luther King, I think that the main human right that underlies every human right, is to be in a love relationship with others and God. I believe it is by nature we were created to love and be loved, therefore making it a right. I also believe that there are no distinctions in rights but distinction in the people who have this right. I think all humans are created equal that everyone has the same amount of need for love yet one thing I do not agree with the other authors is that, I think human rights since given by God it is not for everyone but only to those who are Christian, who have been restored in relationship with God. The verse “it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this not from yourselves, but it is the gift of God” in Ephesians 2:8 can be seen as, it is by grace you have “rights” …it is the gift of God. I think sin has made people lose the right to be loved. Although I still believe that desire to have this right, is present, I believe that there are no rights for the non-Christian because it is God given. I think initially because all men are born sinners, there is no such thing as human rights until there has been a restoration that has taken place, where man is given rights by God, the right to love God, to love others and to be loved.
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