07 November 2008

I took a ride on a Gemini spacecraft

I just found an article that got me thinking so I figured I would share it. Apparently the UN has decided to send the full text of the Universal Human Rights Declaration into space. They will be storing it, I suppose just for the purpose of symbolism, in the Columbus space lab on the ISS. When I first read the article I assumed they were broadcasting a reading of it into the deepest recesses of our galaxy and it was that premise that got my proverbial cogs turning.

I've linked to the full text of the UHRD because it's really worth a read. It isn't long at all. After reading it I asked myself the same thing I'm about to ask you. If you were an outside observer of this planet (a la Kang and Kodos) and you heard a broadcast of the UHRD do you think you'd come up with an accurate vision of this planet?

Here are a few interesting snippets from the UHRD that I think could be seen as less than accurate*.

Article 4.

    No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 7.

    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 9.

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

    Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 16.

    (1)Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

Article 18.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Article 23.

    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

    (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

    (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

    (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 25.

    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Article 26.

    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

    (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

I'm sure there are more, too. It's odd that in going through the Universal Human Rights Declaration looking for statements which obviously aren't true throughout the world (or even throughout the industrialized world in many cases) I managed to pull out well over half of the damn thing. Do you think that if an alien race were to hear the UHDR they would be getting a truthful representation of the state of our planet? It almost makes me feel like we're lying to the whole damn universe about who we are. I realize that there may not ever be a day when the whole text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be said to be true for every person on this planet. I realize that this document wasn't meant more as a beacon in the dark than a mirror on the wall. I just wish that it wasn't so easy to shred it by reading a newspaper. What do you think? Are we there yet? Are we at least closer than we were 60 years ago when this was written? Is it even something that we should be aiming for or is it just some damn liberal tripe that we're better off leaving in the past? You've probably figured out my opinion, now I'd like to know yours.

*The opinions expressed in this blog are mine and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Kang and Kodos.

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