I felt the need to write this today as we witness so much suffering around the world, but not many people are talking about it. We talk about human rights, but I wonder what human rights really mean. What really goes through our minds when we say human rights? If we go through any newspaper from around the world, there will be something in those very newspapers that will make you think that human rights are really a myth. If you watch TV or search on social media, it is full of news stories about human rights violations every day, but we still talk about human rights.
Where are these rights, and how can we access them? I have no answer, but still, we have hundreds of thousands of organizations supporting human rights. There are human rights lawyers and human rights organizations talking about human rights, but these rights don’t exist in the real world. It all seemed controlled or chosen: which species ‘of humans have rights?
What is the definition of human rights?
I have been struggling to understand for the past few months what actually describes human rights and what exactly are human rights.
There is so much suffering in the world, and people are on the streets crying for help for their rights. But unfortunately, no one is hearing their cries. It seems to me that if you have to be in a certain part of the world and be a certain kind of human, then this myth might apply to you. I have been questioning myself: Does it actually matter what color skin you have or what color eyes you have?
Unfortunately, it does, as here in the UK, I was listening to someone when the war started between Russia and Ukraine. One gentleman said he was feeling very hurt about what’s happening to people in Ukraine and that we should help them as they are civilized people, and he was questioned about the fact that wars are happening everywhere. Syria is suffering, and people in Palestine are suffering. The gentleman answered yes, but Ukrainian people are from us; they have blonde hair and blue eyes. It hurt me very much to hear the answer, but it opened so many questions in my mind too.
Is western world more civilized or we are missing something?
So the western world, or shall I say white-skinned people, do not see human rights violations and the sufferings of humans in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Palestine, Pakistan, and in so many other countries around the world, and it’s normal and ok for people who don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes to suffer and be in a war zone. The Western world just looks at them and thinks they don’t have the same skin as us; let’s not worry about them. Or they just don’t consider humans to exist in other colors too, or the term human rights and humans only describes white skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes in the eyes of the western world. It’s so sad and unfortunate that the world doesn’t even see people from around the world as fellow human beings. It’s so easy for the Western world to describe white-skinned people as the only civilized ones.
As a brown-skinned human, I wonder if human rights revolve around power and the color of your skin. The more powerful and white you are, the greater the chance of you being treated under the human rights umbrella.
Every newspaper and every TV channel is talking about Ukraine. Have we ever heard that much about the other war-torn countries I mentioned above? The strange thing is that anyone reading this or with moral values can’t deny the effect of these wars on humans and their rights, regardless of their color or country. But still, no one talks about it.
Can this suffering end itself, or do we need to change our attitude towards fellow humans?
Humans suffered and are suffering, and we still hold seminars, can talk about human rights for hours, and can write lengthy articles to show how much we care about these issues, but is it actually helping the suffering people in any way?
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Are we achieving what we should achieve for humans to have a better world where there is peace and there is no difference between us regardless of the color of our skin, hair, or eyes?
Do we still feel pain for other human beings, regardless of which country they are from, in the same way we would feel for someone if it were one of our own?
What do we think when we talk about human rights and we decide to take a side on which person or story we would support? If you see a lot of international human rights organizations highlighting issues regarding human rights violations, there is a selection of people, stories, and countries that they would like to present to the world. The choice they make is very selective. Human rights violations are human rights violations, no matter how you look at them. It should be like that, but it isn’t. This world should be more open and fair without any bias, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
In the 21st century, where we have achieved so much, I felt the need to write this because my words are based on my personal experiences and what I have witnessed so far. Even though we have achieved so much, I think there is still a long way to go to create a peaceful world.
The world should be fair and honest; without this, there will never be peace. We need to come out of prejudice to create a better world for us and support everyone equally without any bias or judgment of skin color, country, or personal gains.
Kiran Maher is a personal behavior support coordinator and SEN teacher.