Simply because we are human beings PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 February 2015 13:30

By REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO

 

Before any  label that can be applied to me – woman, Catholic, Filipina, wife, etc. –I am first of all a human being.  And in the long run that is what counts. When I come before God in my deathbed I believe the first thing  He will ask me is if I had been a good human being.

If I am primarily a human being ahead of anything else I can be, then there are two important aspects to consider:  1) Did I exercise my responsibilities as a human being? and  2) Was I accorded my rights as a human being?

My responsibilities as a human being can be  generalized in the first clause of the Golden Rule:  “do unto others”, which is basically to respect their rights as human beings.

The UN in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights refers in 30 articles to  the rights of a person simply for being a person, regardless of  gender, race, citizenship, etc.  These articles describe the perspective from which we are to deal with others. Simply speaking, what we are supposed to “do unto others”.

The 30 articles at the same time describe what are my rights as a human being  and which I expect will define my transactions and relationship with others. I will deal with others in the  particular way described by the Declarations and I should expect to be treated in the same way.

It is very provocative to read these articles and realize to what extent these articles are complied with,  or not,  in our personal experiences as individual human beings.

The Declarations, which have a secular background, conform in many ways to the values taught by the world’s major religions. There are exceptions though. A Wikipedia entry on the Declaration says that Saudi Arabia did not sign the Declaration because of its reference to the freedom to change religions, which cannot be granted to Muslims because of the prohibition in the Sharia Law. Much of the turmoil and difficulties in the world today can be traced to the difference in  positions taken by the Declaration and specific laws of certain religions on particular aspects of human behavior.

While we recognize that  we should not expect a perfect fit between any article of the Declaration and specific cultural/traditional values of groups or peoples, nevertheless we should affirm that all of humanity is on a journey towards a better world society. This is stated in one of the preambles:

“Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress …”

In our dealings with one another it would be good to keep this preamble in mind, regardless of the religious persuasion of the other.