“I get no respect,” was a phrase made famous in the 1980s by the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield would then recite a one-liner or an experience he had in which someone had “dissed” [disrespected] him, a punchline that usually ended with laughter at Rodney’s expense. Treating one another with respect, however, is no laughing matter.
December marks both National and Universal Human Rights Month. December 10th is observed as Human Rights Day, the anniversary date of the adoption of the Declaration of Universal Human Rights by the United Nations. This year, this important document observes its 70th anniversary. Article I of the Declaration of Universal Human Rights states:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
If these words seem somewhat familiar, they should. They are an adaptation inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s stirring words of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Articles 2 and 3 of the Human Rights declaration are as fundamentally significant for they state that “Everyone is entitled to . . . [these rights] without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” and “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
According respect and dignity to every person is a basic tenet of Human Rights. Wonderfully, it doesn’t take much work to implement but it means recognizing our commonality, finding ourselves in another. Sometimes that can be difficult when the person we see seems so different from us. As Eleanor Roosevelt pointed out, the work of human rights begins in “small places close to home.” What she could have said but did not detail is that the place where these values first take root is in ourselves and in our homes. Once established in our heart, mind and being, they spread out into our schools, workplaces, neighborhoods and communities. Each of us becomes an ambassador for Human Rights in our daily interactions with one another.
Oaks Integrated Care is committed to upholding the Human Rights of our consumers and our employees. This month, our Ethics and Human Rights Committee will roll out a series of “tool kits” to help our staff be more aware of the rights and freedoms to which all human beings are entitled. Learning about Human Rights doesn’t have to be boring or stodgy – we’ve made our first kit a fun game! The kits will culminate in user-friendly formatted statements of the Human Rights codes that guide our service, including the Consumer Bill of Rights. As a reminder of these rights and practices, employees will wear a wristband with our logo and the phrase, “HUMAN RIGHTS – Dignity & Respect.”
Join with us to become “ambassadors for Human Rights.” Recognize, honor and celebrate the qualities that make us unique individuals within the human family. Uphold, strengthen and support those who struggle or are in need. Comfort those who are injured or in pain. Protect the vulnerable. Rejoice with those who succeed. Treat all with respect and dignity. We can make the world – even our own small corner of the world – a better place.