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Universal Human Rights Article 1

August 23, 2011

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.  They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

All born equal in dignity and rights

We are born equal in dignity and rights.  This means that, as a human being, we have the same intrinsic rights as all other human beings.  Any rights above and beyond, such as copyrights are extrinsic rights and are not human rights.  A property right is an extrinsic right since the ownership of a car belongs to one human being and not all others, whilst the right to own property is an intrinsic human right (article 17).  This is important, because intrinsic rights can, should and must trump extrinsic rights: the good of the many outweighs the good of the one.  That said, this saying (the good of the many outweighs) only applies when it is the deciding factor: when all else is equal and the decision is strictly between the greater and the fewer.  Only when all other differences balance should the majority view automatically prevail.

One must be very careful when fulfilling the will of the masses (as happens in politics) not to presume a standard of normality in people and to compare people to this standard.  This is folly as evidenced by the mistreatment of minorities that happens all too often.  The combined will of the masses is a sludgy brown mess that carries little other than weight: it must be handled carefully and yet it should never take absolute priority unless the majority is, in fact, every living human (so there is identically zero opposition).

Reason and Conscience and the Will of the Masses

If the will of the masses dictates one thing, it is not always right.  Six billion people can occasionally be wrong! If the will of the masses directs things in a certain direction and one person resists, that person is not wrong until they are convinced, to the satisfaction of their conscience, by reason alone, that they need to change and not everybody else.  Not respecting this is the cause of ‘honour killings’, a problem in some cultures which persists to this day.  We must respect everybody’s right to object to the flow of events in this world, even those of extremists.

We must respect, but not necessarily accept.  Respecting and acceptance are two different things.  Respecting means that we acknowledge that the other is of sound mind, reasonable conscience, reasonable and may have a point that we may or may not be able to see.  Accepting means we acknowledge that the other does have a point and that their point is a sound and reasonable one.  Nobody has the right to force us to accept something that we do not want to accept, but we must not game this system by simply choosing to accept things that we don’t like without thinking them through.  This latter failing is ignorance, and it is the cause of much grief.  We must not be ignorant of one another, and must presume that, even if diagnosed mentally ill, a person is actually of sound mind, good conscience and reason, but is merely trying to communicate something for which we have no common language sufficiently accurate to express.  This is especially true in the case of psychiatric illnesses where a certain profession has claimed the right to deny the rights granted under this article in the name of ‘their own good, safety and the spirit of brotherhood’.  This brings me to the spirit of brotherhood.

The Spirit of Brotherhood

If you didn’t like a spot on your arm, you would not cut off your arm, but if your life depended on it, you would (as happened in the events behind the film 127 hours).  There is a biblical lesson about cutting off a sinful arm which is often misinterpreted, though this is not the place to discuss it.  The intention of this wordage is to convey the idea of family, and humanity as one big family.  We want this to be a happy family where everybody enjoys life, but this is not happening at present and things need to change.

If you don’t like your brother, you do not kill him.  That is the worst kind of murder.  ‘Honour’ never excuses the killing of a member of your own family and to do so is inhuman and worse than animal: it is just not natural, so don’t do it.  If you don’t like your brother, you don’t incarcerate him or get him thrown into jail by tricking him into committing a crime.  This, again, is just plain wrong.  Games are fine, so long as the consequences of those games end with the end of the game.  When two tennis players finish, they shake hands and that is the end of it.  Andy Murray would never hate Novak Djokovic just because the latter beat him in a controversial style.  Such controversy happens and, disappointing though it may be, the spirit of brotherhood of all professional tennis players must prevail.  If only footballers could learn this!

If you don’t like the beliefs of a family member, you should talk to them, but never reject them, nor try to force them to change.  No human, not even a family member, has the right to force the mind of another, or to try to dominate them.  All humans deserve the right to have space to live and breathe and a life to live, and it is our duty as human beings to uphold that right even when we disagree.  We do not have the right to say that a human being is ‘mentally ill’ and ‘needs medication’ just because we have a piece of paper that says we are a psychiatrist: human rights must trump the rights of any single profession, no matter how they represent themselves.  If a profession claims to have or need the right to withhold human rights from others, for any reason, that profession must be assumed to be in error and their beliefs subjected to rigorous examination again and again before accepting them.  If the world’s views change, as happens with science, decisions to accept those beliefs should be re-examined in light of the new evidence.  Just because a profession is over one hundred years old and has its position enshrined in law does not mean that it is beyond question.  So please, let us have a look at ourselves, our ‘mentally ill’ and try to get us all communicating and understanding as the dignified equals we are born as!




From → Life, Mental Health

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