Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Survival in a Modern World – Our Rights – Part One – Sally Cronin

When I was revisiting these posts from two years ago, it occurred to me that I was ranting a bit…. well more than a bit. What also struck me is that what I thought was bad then is even worse now. The collective thinking and consideration for each other is clearly not newsworthy, and whilst I know that the majority of people work hard, take responsibility for their lives, health, children, income, housing, education, old age care, pay taxes, and contribute to the community, there are a lot more people today who feel that they have a right to leech off that sector of the comminity than ever before.

For example, recently a family who have never worked talked about how they had a right since it was government money. Sorry the government has rarely made a penny itself, but has legally and sometimes stealthily removed it from the pockets of the general population who have worked very hard for it! So as a taxpayer from the age of 16, I have to say… that it is my money. Where do people imagine the money comes from to pay benefits, support a free health service, educate children etc?

As never before, across so many elements of modern life we are hearing the statement ‘It’s my right.’

What also interested me was that in many cases that expression of right, was referring to something that was not internationally recognised as a ‘right’. For example.. the right to obesity surgery, cosmetic surgery, have a baby even without means to support it, live on benefits for a lifetime, vote in elections when in prison, to be drunk and disorderly, to take drugs, to smoke, to riot, to loot, to carry firearms, to make racist comments. And all justified very passionately, including attached to the statement relating to recognised health hazards….’It’s my body’. Absolutely, until someone, usually the health service has to step in and try to undo the damage you have done to ‘your body’.

What are the official ‘Human Rights’ we should all expect?

I decided to look at the official version of what is considered to be the ‘rights’ of every human on the planet.  I am going to look at each of the ‘rights’ as laid out and explore the reality that I perceive. I am not an expert in the application of Human Rights and these opinions may not be acceptable to everyone. I hope however that they will give you something to consider the next time you feel that you need to establish your ‘rights’.

There is one thing that I do believe and that is that for every ‘right’ there is an ‘obligation’. That obligation is on us, the recipients of the ‘right’ to ensure that we value the privilege of having access to it in the first place.

There is no way that this is going to be one post…. so I am going to spread it over a number and divide appropriately where possible.

There are thirty Articles established in a Bill of Rights by the United Nations. These identify which rights every human on this planet is entitled to, and certainly, if all of these thirty articles were adhered to, the world would be a much better place.

However, it is clear from the headlines that we read daily, these rights that are allegedly attached to every human being on the planet are discriminatory and not adhered to by far too many governments around the world.

What this bill of human rights should really be called is a Wish List’. If you are reading this then the chances are you are living in a country where there is a commitment to adhering to the concepts laid out, and in most cases this commitment is successful but needs work.

However, if you look at the summary of the main points of the bill over the next few chapters, you will immediately be able to name certain countries that have not taken this seriously; continuing to treat the humans under their jurisdiction with total disregard for their rights or freedom. Whether it is a woman who has been stoned to death for alleged adultery or the imprisonment of those who choose to disagree with governmental policy; there is a huge discrepancy between cultures.

We might recognise that we are fortunate in where we live and our freedoms, and sympathise with those still living under the harsher regimes, but it is actually overwhelming and tough to understand how we, as an individual,  can make a difference.

However, we also have to recognise that with every ‘right’  we enjoy there comes that ‘obligation’. There is of course a general obligation to appreciate how very lucky we are to enjoy the majority of the following rights, and there are also very specific obligations to qualify us for that particular privilege.

You might also question why we should be concerned about these Human Rights, since so many of them refer to those who do not have them!. Whilst it is probably fair to say that getting global adherence to these rights is unlikely to happen in our lifetimes, it is important that we do at least make a start on the project for the sake of the next generation and those that follow.

1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Every human is entitled to all the rights outlined in the bill irrespective of race, colour, sex, language, religion, politics, nationality, style of government of home country, social status, ownership of property.

This first article is very general and is a ‘mission statement’ that identifies that all humans are entitled to expect and receive the rights as laid out. Very laudable but without measurements of the numbers of those who currently receive or do not receive the rights, it is vague.

2. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Absolutely, but again this is only possible for those born into environments where liberty and security are established under democratic law. For those born in countries where there is dictatorial rule and inherent violence, they will never have that right. Although vague this does come with an obligation. Liberty is not just freedom to live safely within an environment, it is also about the ‘rights’ that we have been given to ensure that liberty for our lifetime and those of our children. This includes the right to vote for a government who protects our rights as individuals and as a nation.

Our obligation: In 2015, which was a critical general election with the prospect of a referendum on the EU looming, 66.1% of the UK eligible voters went to the polls. This means that nearly 34% of the UK population did not exercise their right to vote for a government that would take them into a very crucial time in British history.

There are millions around the world who do not have this right to vote for a democratic government and it would seem to me that there is every reason to ask those 34% of voters why they chose not to exercise their right… and make sure that they understand how important their contribution is.

3. No one should be held in slavery or servitude and the slave trade is prohibited in all its forms.

Slavery has been abolished but it still thrives. Here is an excerpt from a global study by the United Nations based on information from 155 countries.

‘The term trafficking in persons can be misleading: it places emphasis on the transaction aspects of a crime that is more accurately described as enslavement . Exploitation of people, day after day. For years on end.

According to the Report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. Surprisingly, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. In some parts of the world, women trafficking women is the norm.

The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labour (18%), although this may be a misrepresentation because forced labour is less frequently detected and reported than trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Worldwide, almost 20% of all trafficking victims are children. However, in some parts of Africa and the Mekong region, children are the majority (up to 100% in parts of West Africa)’.

Having read the executive summary it is important to note that only percentages are used and there is no mention of the fact that those percentages represent millions of women, men and children worldwide.

Our Obligation: Do not remain silent if you believe there is any form of this vile trade being conducted around you. In most countries there is a way to report crimes anonymously and in the UK you can contact Crimestoppers – – that one call could prevent the suffering and often death of an individual or a much larger group.

4. No one shall be subjected to torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, degradation or punishment.

Obviously this one is definitely not globally adhered to by governments; in fact there are probably far too many countries employing these tactics than not.

But what about our personal obligation to ensure that where we live, this ‘right’ is afforded to as many people as possible?

The one cruel and degrading treatment that comes to mind is bullying. There has been a steady increase in the number of young teenagers committing suicide which is unacceptable.

Bullying Frequency

Recent U.S. studies have found that 28% of students in grades 6-12 and 20% of students in grades 9-12 have experienced bullying. That’s between 1 in 4 and 1 in every 3 students in the U.S.

But, the UK Annual Bullying Survey of 2017 has showed more alarming results. The survey was conducted in secondary schools and colleges all across the United Kingdom. 54% of all respondents said that they have been bullied at some point in their lives – that’s every other child! 1 in 5 said that they’ve been bullied within the past year, and 1 in 10 has been bullied at least one in the past week.

Number one motive for bullying was attitude towards victim’s appearance – 50% of all bullying motives. 40% were attitudes towards interest and hobbies, followed by attitudes towards high grades, household income, low grades, family issues, disabilities, race, cultural identity, religion, sexuality and gender identity.

The most common type of bullying is reported to be verbal bullying, followed by physical, cyber and social.

This is in countries where we like to think we are civilized and live in a free and democratic society. Worryingly these statistics will be mirrored in most of our countries.

Our obligation begins as parents.. a school is a place to be educated and basic civilisation and morality should be taught in the home before a child begins to interact with others.

The school then has an obligation to have a zero tolerance policy on bullying, but that can only happen when those who are bullied come forward, which they are more often than not too scared to do so. Also these days there appear to be far too few consequences for the act of bullying towards another. Detention just seems to enhance the culprit’s status amongst their usual sycophantic following. Removal of phone and other online privileges are not effective as they buy a burner phone or use public online access.

Personally, and at the risk of causing a PC melt-down, I favour a little public humiliation in the form of the stocks and well aimed rotten tomatoes.

As bosses and leaders there is also an obligation to ensure there is a zero tolerance policy in the workplace. This is enlightened self-interest since businesses are badly impacted by bullying, not to mention work-related discrimination law suits. Bullying in the workplace tends to be towards groups as well as individuals and can be insidious. The intolerance to bullying needs to be emphasised at induction training of all staff at every level, and should be included in performance reviews annually. The tone needs to be set from the top down. And considering the millions of sick days taken each year which impact the bottom line of every business, many stress related, bosses need to ensure that bullying is not part of their culture.

As individuals we also have to accept the responsibility. It is easier to turn our backs when we see individual or group abuse happening and some of that is self-preservation. But what if it was our child or grandchild. At the very least, if there is a personal safety issue, there is no reason not to pick up a phone and talk to someone who can deal with the matter as quickly as possible. If urgent, then the police, but if systemic in your neighbourhood, work with the council and community outreach programmes.

Sometimes a problem can appear to be so overwhelming and we can feel that our contribution will be a mere drop in the ocean. However, if our actions only help just one person who is trapped in this nightmare, then we have done a good thing. Multiplied by millions of individuals doing the right thing… and a huge difference can be made.

©sallycronin The R’s of Life

Next time –  Rights and the Legal system.

You can find the other chapters in the series in this directory… and your feedback is always welcome: