Today, December 10th, is international Human Rights Day! The UN General Assembly passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. The Universal Declaration was the first international statement declaring that every single human being has rights and listing those core rights.
The idea of human rights requires constant struggle. As time progresses, societies realize new rights, new spheres of life where the government has limited legitimacy to intrude. At each step, the people demand more respect from their government and the government will resist the loss of power. In the beginning, human rights demanded that the government merely not intrude on the life of its citizens unjustly such as through arbitrary arrest. Over time, societies realized that their governments were not a discrete agent but a representative for the people and thus had obligations to the people such as providing education or ensuring the people can feed themselves. These demands for greater respect and responsiveness will only continue, even if the path backtracks at time.
Today is a good day to remember what you have and be grateful for it. Whether you live in a human rights paradise or in a dictatorship that doesn’t respect the basic freedoms of speech and religion or freedom from fear and want, enjoy what you have. And, after that momentary reflection, reflect on those rights that are not respected, in other societies and your own, and how you can continue the struggle.