What are human rights? | Teen Ink

What are human rights?

December 6, 2021
By iwantapseudonym SILVER, Seoul, Other
iwantapseudonym SILVER, Seoul, Other
6 articles 19 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Call me Velvet Thunder." - Captain Raymond J. Holt of the 99th Precinct

We are taught from an early age that every human is entitled to a set of rights at birth—the same, equal rights that no one can take away from them. But it is unclear as to what these rights might specifically look like. In 1948, the United Nations put together a document named the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that contained thirty universal rights made to protect every individual on Earth, such as the freedom of speech, right to privacy, and equality under the law. However, unless they are exercised appropriately in real life, these rights have limited meaning on paper and are rendered powerless.

In my hometown, Seoul, most people are still extremely xenophobic and uncomfortable with social change and progress. People harshly criticize and alienate gay and lesbian couples, and they are even more hostile towards individuals whose gender orientations do not comply with society’s expectations. They disregard the fact that every individual has the right to enjoy a free and fair world.

Moreover, in Western countries like the United States, people of color still face racism, discrimination, and prejudice to the point that they have to be careful of going out in public and being themselves. Modern society has gotten to the point where people are fighting and killing each other, simply because of the different colors of their skins. It has become evidently clear that many people do not see each other as equivalent humans, but as individuals with differences that cannot be overcome.

In places like Palestine and Israel, innocent civilians die every day due to violent wars that have carried on for exhaustive periods. The authoritative figures behind these wars elongate the fight to advance their religious beliefs but neglect the fact that tens of thousands of people have been sacrificed to support their cause. Such actions in no way support human rights. If everyone is born equal, then why is it that these people of power have the authority to determine the life or death of countless individuals? How is it just that their lives are prioritized over others?

In order for an individual to properly exercise their entitled human rights, others should not put them in harm's way or violate them in any manner. For me, human rights means equality, freedom, safety, and justice. Everyone should be allowed to enjoy their lives to the fullest, no matter what their race, ethnicity, sex, or gender orientation. Unfortunately, today’s society is still tainted with discrimination, enslavement, torture, and injustice. 

What these people fail to realize is that at the end of the day, everyone is human. Behind all the numerous labels that society categorizes us into, we are all equal. No one is better than any other individual. And no matter how wealthy, beautiful or handsome, or fair-skinned someone is, can they be placed as higher than someone else. 

In order for everyone to exercise their human rights to the fullest, our society needs to change. I acknowledge those changes are already happening, but it’s not enough. I don’t want to live in a world where my classmate’s nickname is “quesadilla” or “taco bell” just because his father is the school Spanish teacher. I don’t want to live in a society where my family is disrespected by a waiter who refuses to serve us with the same respect he showed to a white family. I don’t want to see any more starving and neglected refugees crossing rivers and deserts to reach a place they hope to call a safe space, just to be turned away and shoved into crowded camps with inhumane living conditions. 

I don’t want to live in a world where human rights are becoming a privilege. I want to contribute to a community where everyone is comfortable to be nothing other than human.

The author's comments:

I wrote this piece on the topic: What are human rights? The social and humanitarian issues of the modern world motivated me to write this piece.

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