By Joy Hinman
December 10, 2012 is HUMAN RIGHTS DAY a call for recognition and support of human rights for every woman, child, and man worldwide– equal and inalienable rights for everyone. Many historians and sociologists concur that humankind is, overall, improving its record on this front. Yet, the human family is still crying out for freedom from the injustice of slavery of every kind, including hate, abuses, mental and physical diseases
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) is an amazing, comprehensive document which calls for ”…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,…” It outlines equality and justice for every aspect of life for all the human family. This Declaration is also a model for other Human Rights organizations such as the (ECHR) European Convention on Human Rights (1970).
The yearly Human Rights Day is a reminder, alerting the world to end loss or lack of these rights everywhere.
There are other famous documents that support these principles, including the American Declaration of Independence (from 1776), which states ”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….” And the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 1867 which begins with Fundamental Freedoms, including “ freedom of conscience, religion, thought, expression…”
Powerful concepts and goals! Primary within each of these Declarations are spiritual aspects of life – freedom of thought, freedom of worship, and the rights of conscience. With these securely protected, the other rights would follow: freedom of speech, movement, employment, education; freedom from gender violence, slavery, poverty, addictions, unjust attitudes and laws. In fact, a healthier world.
While each of these is important, perhaps the most fundamental of these is freedom of thought — and it is directly tied to our health and well being.
Spiritual healer and philanthropist, Mary Baker Eddy puts it this way in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. “God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason and conscience. Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker.”
Many people today are discovering that recognition of God-given rights includes, also, the right to be free from the long-term effects of mental or physical illnesses as well as oppression and violence. For example, the American Bible Society is sponsoring ground-breaking trauma therapy in war-torn Congo (DRC) . A program called “She’s My Sister” is using prayer and the Scriptures in combination with mental health practices to treat traumatized women and children.” Another program, called “Living Free,” brings the power of the Scriptures to those who are working to help a friend or family member find freedom from any situation where he or she is being controlled by another person, or a substance, or a compulsive or destructive behaviour.
While treatment for trauma, the effects of physical violence and substance abuse have long focused on bio-medical and psychological therapies, increasingly the role of prayer, faith and spirituality are being recognized as valuable healing options.
Perhaps it goes to the heart of what many prisoners of war have often recounted – that they found the one thing, of which they could not be robbed, was their thoughts and their relationship with the Divine.
There is a universal right available to everyone — untouchable by mortal aggressors — a spiritual resource which is the inalienable right for everyone to turn to, even in the midst of the most oppressive injustices. It is internal, mental, spiritual. It cannot be robbed or sold or taken away. It is prayer. Individuals do lift up their thoughts, hopes and prayers and find strength. This assurance brings a strengthening sense of peace which is health-giving.
The UN Human Rights Day is an opportunity to continue to work for universal human rights, safety, and health for all humanity – and to honour the right of freedom of thought, conscience, and worship..They open humanity to the full range of human rights.