Mar. 17, 2014

differing views

Recently I had an exchange of thoughts with an individual who has apparently lived the experience of rights violations while many others just talk about it. When discussing human rights, however, it is necessary to put aside our Judeo-Christian beliefs and values and consider any discourse with an open mind. An altrusistic approach to the topic is admirable and in no way do I wish to belittle or condemn that philosophy. What I do want to do is shed some light on why others may view "human rights" differently from the way we see it and why it often has no bearing on how countries, or the "leaders" of countries, react the way they do.  One only has to look at human rights from a historical standpoint to understand that rights violations, right or wrong, were an integral part in our world's development into what we now refer to as modern society. In this respect too, we must recognize that "modern society", as a whole, just might not include every society, and that every society just might not want to be a part of modern society. For those that wish to stay outside that realm, are we violating their "rights" by forcing our way of life upon them ? Think no further than rain forest tribes in South America or tribes living on isolated islands in the Pacific. Can we ignore rights violations and atrocities in some countries without being hypocritcal when we cry violation in the country crisis du jour?  Now lets look at the topic from a modern society standpoint. First and foremost, any modern society wants to protect its' sovereignty and in order to do that, it wants to protect it's borders and/or strategic assets. I would imagine that if the Cuban government suddenly decided to take control of Gitmo, our response would not be based on whether or not we were violating the human rights of the Cuban people.  With this in mind, it is important to understand that in places like the Crimean penninsula of Ukarine, the very large warm water naval port of Russia's is key, in their mind, to the sovereignty and security of their nation. In World War II, they lost this vital port to invading Germans and as a result, lost a key supply route into their country for allied support. This almost cost them the war in the east.  Here in the United States, our sovereignty has only been violated once by Japan invading and taking possesion of some of the Aleutian Islands, so a true understanding of the consequences of losing land and security is lost on many Americans. Again, an understanding of the history of a country can often tell us how they might react. It is this concept that seems to be missing in the current way our leaders now deal with foreign affairs. Without understanding this, we will continue to flounder when dealing with many human rights violations worldwide. What we want in the way of dealing with the human condition just might not be what others want. We can shake our fingers and look down our noses at the way some muslim societies subjugate their women or how children in some countries have to work the fields, however this self-righteous approach does little to help us understand why these societies continue this approach to life. Rather than us dictating what they should be doing, maybe we should allow them to choose their own fate.  Maybe insuring that information is available that can help others understand why we think the way we do is something we should focus on. Human rights are, or should be, universal put perhaps a better question is in whose universe.