For some cultures, December marks the season for holidays. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and sometimes even Milad un Nabi are just a few of the celebrations that American citizens will commemorate this month – not to mention the closing of the calendar year.
But December is also observed for another, lesser known reason: it is the Universal Month for Human Rights.
So what does this mean exactly?
It’s important to first understand how the Universal Month for Human Rights started. It began in 1948, when the United Nations wrote up a document called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This happened after the Second World War, because the U.N. wanted to prevent the atrocities that had occurred. They created the document as a way to properly define what human rights would be protected universally.
The very first article of this declaration makes it clear what the purpose is. It 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.
The rest of the document lists out what these rights are. It emphasizes how important it is to work towards protecting freedom for all in order to keep peace.
How can you observe the Universal Month for Human Rights?
There is a lot of turmoil in the world. Open up any newspaper or look on any Facebook or Twitter feed and see the many challenges our planet is constantly facing.
One of the most important things you can do throughout the course of this month – and even beyond – is to find common ground with the people around you. We must remember that all human beings were born into the same world we were and that, despite our differences, we must learn to function here together. Human Rights Month is about acknowledging that people of different races, religions, cultures, and beliefs are still just that: people. We must be careful of differentiating ourselves from others so much that we forget this.
Take the time to learn about another culture that is different from yours – perhaps a culture that makes you nervous or uneasy. Research their history or perhaps make a new friend that is a member of that culture. You’ll start to see quickly how similar all people really are. You’ll start to see just how important it is that everyone be treated with dignity and respect.