Human Rights and the Writer
It’s been a busy week for me already, so I’m taking some time out to reflect on a topic that affects us all: human rights. Whether we acknowledge the history that has allowed us the power to vote, associate, or stay healthy and work, and notwithstanding the comprehensive statement any participant nation in the UN has signed on to with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, too many forget that these rights exist for ALL, and have been gained at many times at terrible cost. For my story-writing self, this is rich fodder; for my friends who are still in limbo on whether their marriages will be recognized… or for women who seek equality under the law… or for victims of human trafficking who are stuck in slavery… the reality is that we have a long way to go before even the basics outlined in that document become universal in the way they were intended.
As my friend, critiquer, and fellow blogger Sabrina Garie points out in her post on the topic, our ability to expose these contradictions in our stories can help individual readers wrestle with those same issues. I suspect we all hope that our entertainment efforts plant a few seeds of consciousness in our audience so they’re not as automatically unconscious about how they treat their fellow beings. As another friend and blogger, Kasia James, points out, by listening to and understanding each others’ stories, we gain empathy and true compassion. In my experience, it’s when we truly internalize those characteristics that we not only gain tolerance, but also the strength to join the fight for those who still need our help in attaining what some few already have.
My experiences growing up around the globe have shown me that by and large, individuals are not that different. We’re all looking for satisfaction in our lives, work, and relationships. Differences of opinion and belief for the most part boil down to varying approaches to handle the same core issues: What is the meaning of our existence and how do we align ourselves in such a way as to maximize our capacity to fulfill our goals. As an Anne McCaffrey reader and Star Trek fan, internalizing the utopian view of a meritocracy where regardless of skill, basic needs are always met, has had a profound impact on my own sense of justice and equality. It is my hope that someday, some nuggets from my own stories push others in the same way.