Sunday, March 15, 2009

I missed an important anniversary

December 10, 2008 was the 60th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" by the General Assembly of the United Nations. You can read the declaration at
I bring this up because, as I look around the world and within our own country, I see that we truly need to embrace that declaration.
It's difficult.
In our own country, we have people who want to impose their religious views on others. And, quite honestly, whether you look at the Taliban or the Christian Right, you see forces who wish to govern our lives, not based upon the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," but upon their scriptures and religious teachings.
The declaration actually talks about "social safety nets" and the right to a living wage. It talks about the right to open and free expression of religious views, but it also warns against imposing those views on others. It is basically a reiteration of "Do unto others..." and "Love thy neighbor as thyself."
I find it SO interesting that the people most likely to be aggressively christian are also the ones to be uber-patriotic and very vocal about "supporting our troops."
"What's interesting about that," you may ask?
Did you know that the US Military recognizes almost 40 different religious markers for graves? See for a list. That list includes the symbols for Islam, Buddhism, agnostics, and Wicca.
How do the flag-waving, bible-thumping zealots reconcile their support of the military with denial for our soldiers to worship (or not) as they see fit?
Personally, I don't think they can. If you support this country, you support the separation of church and state and the freedom of religious expression and choice.
As a veteran of the US Air Force, I know that being a patriot is more about service to one's country...whether formal military service or community volunteerism, than waving flags, spouting slogans, or pasting decals on one's vehicle. Whatever money is spent on those decals would be better spent in a donation to a veteran's shelter or the USO. The money for those decals usually winds up in China.
And we all, every US citizen, have a responsibility to defend the freedoms outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the US Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution. Whether it is our personal freedoms that are under attack or those of another creed, race, sex, or ethnic group, as citizens we have both the right and the responsibility to speak up and defend those rights with our whole being.
So, today, though I am late, I celebrate the 60th anniversary of the declaration of human rights and hope that reason and brotherly and sisterly love will prevail.

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