December is Human Rights Month—Let’s be about it
Earlier this week I spoke to a friend whose neighbor had died of COVID. She has the kind of neighbors people used to have—you know them because you spend time in their homes, the children play together, they have a key to your house, etc., and I lamented that even though I’ve met my neighbors, I don’t know them.
Unfortunately, when it comes time to celebrate Universal Human Rights Month, or Day on December 10, too many of us are like me and my neighbors. We know there are people out there but because we don’t know them personally, we may not be their advocates and, it’s not because we’re bad people, it’s simply that this may not be the top of our agenda today.
Today and every day this month I’m asking for that to change. This month-long human rights observance began in 1948 with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as its architect. Among the many amazing things she orchestrated, this one is still around and prayerfully at the end of the month, our neighbors—wherever they happen to be, will know we care and are advocating for their good will.
For me, celebrating human rights looks like this: providing a voice for those whose voices are seldom heard. The “working poor” should be a phrase we never use. Every person who works should earn a decent and living wage so that their quality of life is what they would choose it to be.
I watched the debate between two of the Georgia Senate candidates Sunday and the incumbent who is purportedly the richest member of Congress mentioned that she was living the American dream. During this COVID-19 pandemic, the American dream has turned into something less than aspirational for too many families. Many are on the verge of homelessness, unemployment, despair, and physical and mental health decline.
Here is an opportunity for us to be involved. Whether that looks like being more generous this holiday season, being more patient with our renters, being an outspoken advocate for stimulus relief—you decide but it is critical that we don’t just keep listening and watching the news and commenting without reaching out and up.
My heart broke when I heard about the more than 500 children who were separated from their families at the border earlier this year. The reports said some children were under school age and their parents can’t locate them. Can we even imagine what these families are going through?
No matter how you feel about immigration, this isn’t right and it must never happen again. We must say so loudly, often, and clearly and insist on a humane immigration policy for those who want to relocate. Our policies must reflect our commitment to global human rights.
Discrimination because of cultural and religious difference, sexual preference, orientation, and lifestyle may not be topics you discuss at dinner but every day people are suffering because of their lifestyle preferences. Whatever happened to personal freedoms? Today, more than ever, it is critical that everyone have the chance to live their lives as they see fit, without interference from those who want to second guess them. Human rights are just that—rights for every human, no matter their age, stage, color, geography, or any other kind of status.
That means every person gets treated with dignity and respect—trust me, those thousands of cars lined up for food are not there to “get over” or get something for nothing. The average person who has to ask for help would rather cut off their left arm than have to say they need help. Let us do all we can to respect our neighbors and friends—all of them.
How do you think we can ensure everyone is treated with respect and dignity? Share with me your thoughts at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.