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Universal human rights in a cultural diversity context Universal human rights in a cultural diversity context
by Joseph Gatt
2007-12-29 09:54:58
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Social life is governed by principles and doctrines that differ in every society. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though in my opinion the greatest document ever to be printed, sometimes might contradict people’s traditions.

International communities are becoming increasingly integrated economically, culturally and socially. People can identify themselves as global citizens, yet resistance movements often want to preserve original traditions rather than adopt universal ones. One might think that the trend prevails mostly in emerging countries, but many developed countries also experience the trend.

For example, though the right to chose one’s religion is a fundamental human right, many countries do not allow conversions. However, in countries where freedom of religion is tolerated, one can not freely expose his religious beliefs. People can chose their own culture as long as they don’t violate other fundamental human rights, yet the right to chose one’s culture is also limited in several countries.

In some cases, people who change their cultures or refuse to adopt the culture they were born in are persecuted. Human rights are individual rights, but in many cases individual rights contradict cultural rights. In many cases, one person born in one culture should respect all cultural trends and has no right to leave his cultural background.

Some cultures have hierarchies that would experience changes, had human rights been applied. Many would lose their jobs and wealth if they respected human rights. Some would lose power and the respect they were entitled to. The notion of power somehow plays a determining role in human rights.

Respecting human rights on racial discrimination would mean entering into competition for the labor market with people from different ethnic backgrounds. And since people from other ethnic backgrounds have the advantages of knowing both their culture and other people’s culture, the competition would be too strong.

As far as the rights on child protection are concerned, many would lose a labor force that is easy to exploit and would lose their authority on children. Those on linguistic and religious minorities would endanger a country’s or society’s cohesion and identity.

Culture is not the reason people don’t respect human rights. In respecting them, many would lose a significant portion of authority they used to have. And the whole cultural group is not to blame. What should be blamed is the greed of some individuals who brainwash many to make people join their cause in claiming that human rights contradict their traditions.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-12-29 10:13:15
It seems to me that the issue of inalienable human rights is ultimately a philosophical one: on what are those rights founded upon? The operative word is "inalienable," meanind that nobody grants those rights, that they are not based on the power of a State to grant them or withold them but accrue to being a human being. Logically, it follows that their universal violation can only mean that man has dehumanize himself to the point of considering their violation normal. Einstein had it on target when he said that our modern era is characterized by perfection of means and confusion of goals.

Alex. P.2007-12-31 01:14:16
"Many would lose their jobs and wealth if they respected human rights."
Oh, that's a shame... :)

Sand2008-01-01 10:48:09
As long as we are into definitions it might be worthwhile to understand what "dehumanize" might mean. If it means "not to behave as a human" it requires a clear outline as to what human behavior might mean. A brief perusal of both contemporary and historical human behavior reveals, even to the casual observer such a wide range of both benign and malignant general activity that the term becomes too amorphous to make sense.

Sand2008-01-01 11:00:50
There is no doubt that Einstein did some wonderful things in modern physics and I found some of his social observations worthwhile but I would not look to a great chef to repair my car or a wonderful plumber to discover proper legal procedures. It is obvious that the modern era has investigated means to an effective degree but the goals of every past human era, considering their resultant modern times, have been no less confused than the current ones and I am very suspicious of regimes, such as Nazi Germany, or Mao's China, or the killing fields of Cambodia that had unified goals that, to put it mildly, did not turn out well.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-01 14:22:20
To respect human rights one need not be an expert in a particular field; all that one needs to be is a holistic human being who knows all the components of a human beings (not mere rationality devoid of imagination and the poetical)and respects them in him/herself and in others.

Sand2008-01-01 15:38:21
Or perhaps to be so supremely overconfident and stupid as to not be able to look closely at reality.

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