Human Rights Speech

What does it mean to have human rights? Over the centuries people of all origins and cultures have persevered to create lives supported by equality. Often feelings of ethnocentrism and racism have prevented the accomplishment of this long sought goal. Many wars and treacherous hindrances, encircling life, continue to deter us from our ultimate desire, to live peacefully. But, there are still those that resist the tempting selfishness of their pride and strive to help develop a world deprived of iniquity and enveloped in absolute fairness and equality. Conflicts including the Holocaust, the Civil War, and genocide in Darfur are proof of the contrasting opinions involved with the debate of human rights.

Must violence be the only solution to these disagreements? We aim for a better and truthful world and to make this happen the first question of Rotary International’s Four Way Test is mandatory. When referring to the question of truth, peoples’ words are often taken for granted. How can we strive for equality when truth is often fabricated for others’ gain? In order to attain and ensure complete equality as human beings, ethical conduct is a necessity and, therefore, the truth must be held in the utmost importance. The great American social activist, Robert Ingersoll, once said “Give to every human being every right that you claim for yourself.” Thus, leading to the second question of fairness, in the Rotary’s Four Way Test.

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Do the lives of people today really demonstrate thorough fairness? Around the world the basic human rights that we possess are violated regularly. In Pakistan, Vietnam, and several other countries, over 200 million children are forced to give up their education and work to sustain their deprived families. Each year 22,000 children die from accidents involving their work. In most cases they are beaten and forced to work twelve hours a day in dangerous conditions. Is it fair for these children to suffer such a fate and continue to have their rights violated, without the knowledge that they may even possess such rights? And what of the owners who beat them? Such lack of ethical character is one of the numerous causes of conflict within this world.

Our rights and the rights of others are meant to be appreciated and respected. When one lacks ethical conduct, those around them are most certainly impacted. What authority do people have that enables them to declare dominance over fellow human beings? In the words of the profound political reformer, Horace Greeley, “I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot.” Therefore, the third part of the Four Way Test, questioning goodwill and better friendships, comes into light. By mistreating others we only degrade ourselves in the process. How may we encourage feelings of goodwill and build better friendships, when people insist in performing their acts of hypocrisy and contradictions? The continuing encouragement of ethical conduct will conjure increasing awareness of human rights violations.

What becomes of those with unethical character? These persons are the beings in which conflict is aroused. They contribute to the source of turmoil and insecurity within ourselves. In the words of Rotary’s fourth question of the Four Way Test, will these persons prove beneficial in their actions to the world and those around them? Many people desire the creation of a better world, but they are insistent in waiting for others to step forth and pave the way. These people are just as guilty as those who conjure unrest. As the great speaker, Martin Luther King Jr.

once said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” If no one takes a stand and works to ensure that the rights of others and themselves are upheld, then who will? We cannot sit idly as time passes by. Nothing will be accomplished. I desire a world where all children attend school.

Where war is only recorded in history books and an era of peace and generosity may preside over all lands. A world where my children will not have to face the cruelty of judgment. Where corruption is unheard of and the rights of all people are upheld everywhere. We must not wait for someone else. Together we must become leaders ourselves and work to improve our own person for the sake of others. To make the right choices and avoid passing judgment whether it be different race, gender, or religion.

Tolerance is the key to this bright, new future, and I will strive each day to up hold the ideals of the Four Way Test to attain this future. What will you do to reach it?