On June 6, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower said to his troops that they were embarking on a crusade to free people who have been oppressed and deprived of their human rights by dictators, and that is why they had to fight.
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. This quote from the United Nations Human Rights website accurately describes what human rights are.How can we, as human beings in New York with all of our houses with clean water, electricity, and electronics, understand all of the problems in the world that people are experiencing every day? People who might have had the misfortune of being born in the industrial sectors of China, the crowded areas of India, or the people living in the middle of the fighting zones of South Sudan? The answer is technology. Many organizations, such as the United Nations, and many individuals have taken advantage of the internet and the social media to spread the word about the horrible things going on. Through technology we can avoid these problems and aid the innocent people stuck between them.
General Eisenhower started a crusade to restore human rights, and it is now our job, as the new generation, to fulfill this crusade and bring human rights to everyone. One way we can do this is through the social media, and paying attention to everything going on and being aware of the things happening throughout the world. For example, in Nigeria, hundreds of girls were kidnapped to be sold as slaves. This was done because the group wanted to put an end to western education and said the girls should be married already. One basic human right is to be educated. Everyone should have access to education. We need to make sure things like this get attention, and we need to make sure people know about it. Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, can spread a message very easily and in a split second. The first step to solving anything is always to find out what is going on first, and through the news channels, social media like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, word about these kidnappings has spread quickly. We need to make sure everyone knows that not everyone has it like we do, with sanitation, clean water, and electricity. Many parents are constantly worrying because the risk is very high that their children could get killed, kidnapped, or forced into labor or fighting.
The second step to guaranteeing everyone basic human rights is to make sure people do something about it. Many times, people, including me, will skim over a picture, look at it and feel bad for a second, and then forget about it five minutes later. This is something we need to avoid. We need to stop pretending like things will go away and take action. Often this is hard, because some countries are so far away and we do not fully understand the situation. But we don’t always need to go to the country or place in order to fix what is going on there. Charities are one big way of helping people out, and organizations such as Amnesty International, United Nations, Unicef do a great job of helping people through donations, but there are other ways too. I am sure everyone here has had a pen pal at some point. It may not have been someone in a horrible situation, but writing to them probably made their day. Writing to people, or making them know you care in any way, will have a big impact. There are also many campaigns or parades, or even clubs in our school, that are focused on helping people in need and making sure things get done. Join those clubs, and even though it may not feel like it sometimes, you will be making a difference just by putting the effort in to care and reach out with your heart to people outside of our community or state.
Those things can all be done by each and every one of us. Sometimes, however, we need help from a government or bigger organization like the United Nations to get things done. Through technology and social media, it is now easier than ever to express your feelings or ideas. Instead of keeping these to yourself, put it out there! Get people aware of what is going on, create a petition or join one if you think it will help out your fellow human beings, and chances are more and more people are going to notice, and eventually maybe even the president himself! When you have one person asking for a change, chances are you are not going to get noticed, but when you have a school or district all working together and spreading the word through social media, people will notice and actions will be taken.
Soldiers like Richard Kemper and the 100 other Mamaroneck High School students gave their lives in World War II to defend human rights, and it is our job to make sure that their lives are not lost in vain. We must spread the word about atrocities like the genocides in Africa and the kidnappings in Nigeria and the extremely low wages in China and we must take action to make sure that this stops and never happens again. In this day and age we have to our disposal a great arsenal of tools, like iPhones, tablets, and computers, so let us make sure that these get used for the better of the people, not just for us. Instead of posting a selfie, next time post a picture or share an article about some of the things you feel need fixing in the world, and make people aware! Let’s make a difference, in honor of all the soldiers who fought for the very rights we have today, let’s show them that we are ready to take up the task to change the world.
What Are Human Rights. What Are Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May 2014.
Nossiter, Adam. “Nigerian Islamist Leader Threatens to Sell Kidnapped Girls.”The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 May 2014. Web. 06 May 2014.
Take Action, Petitions, Membership, Sponsors, DVD, Booklet and Educational Materials : Youth For Human Rights. Take Action, Petitions, Membership, Sponsors, DVD, Booklet and Educational Materials : Youth For Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2014.
Get Involved. For Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2014.
On June 6th, 1944, thousands of brave men heeded General Eisenhower’s call to arms and fought and died on the beaches of Normandy to free the world from tyranny and help restore basic human rights for millions of oppressed people. As we are about to celebrate the 70th anniversary of this historic battle, it is important not only to look back and honor their sacrifices, but to look forward and think about what we can do to help ensure equal rights for all people.
On October 9th, 2012, a young girl answered to a different call to arms. Her name is Malala Yousafzai and since the age of eleven years old she had been speaking out demanding equality in education for the girls in her country. She understood that the only way girls had a chance at an equal future and a life free from oppression was through access to education. On this particular day, she was riding the bus on her way to school in the Swat province of Pakistan, when a man on the street forced the vehicle to stop. He boarded the bus and asked,
Who is Malala? Fourteen-year-old Malala raised her hand. The man shot her in the head, gravely injuring her and harming two other innocent schoolgirls. Now we all ask the question,
Who is Malala? In 1950’s America, we asked,
Who is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? and in South Africa of the 1960’s, people asked,
Who is Nelson Mandela? At one time, these men too were ordinary people with a single voice who decided to speak up against injustices in their society. Though these individuals were put through much tribulation in their lives, including threats of violence and imprisonment, they were never silenced. They continued to speak out for change and equality, and now their names are amongst those famed people who have almost single-handedly changed the course of history.
Malala was attacked by a member of the Taliban. The Taliban is famously against education for women, and they act against anyone who disobeys them with brutality and violence. In Pakistan, 5.1 million children do not attend primary school even though it is their constitutional right. In addition, about 50 million Pakistani adults are illiterate, two thirds of who are women. Other countries around the world face similar issues, such as Nigeria where hundreds of young women were just kidnapped from their school by the Boko Haram. This terrorist group share similar beliefs to the Taliban in terms of education for women. Malala has made it her duty to spread the message of equality in education, no matter what the cost or what she has to go through to do it. She has raised her voice through writing her book, speaking on international television, and making public speeches. In her book, I Am Malala, she says,
One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.
Malala understands that getting through school is one step on the path towards making a difference and having a voice in the world. Children must sustain their education throughout their childhood to be able to contribute to the world later in life. If there is inequality in access to education, then there will be inequality for the rest of their lives. Knowledge is power, and as long as you try your best to take your education seriously, you can stand up to anything in your way. A single girl has made a world of a difference, even if these are just baby steps towards real change. Through the Malala Fund, Malala has raised money for funding education throughout impoverished parts of the world. She has revealed the injustices in her society and has highlighted the topic of girls’ education. She speaks for the women of the world who do not have a voice of their own. The true heroes are the ones who fight for what they believe in no matter what the cost. I am exceptionally grateful for all of the heroic men and women who bravely sacrificed their lives on June 6th, 1944. We, as a nation, will forever remain in their debt, along with all of those across the world who they fought for as well. Improving rights for education worldwide is a big part of what we must do now, to honor these heroes and their goal of human rights for all. We must not let anything or anyone get in our way of accomplishing this. As Malala told herself,
Don’t be afraid—if you are afraid, you can’t move forward. When it comes to fighting tyranny, we must never be silent.