This is an observation on the Holocaust rarely made so clearly. I believe its admonishment about education can be expanded upon to help connect some dots between how we carry out many aspects of our lives and the human element behind them, or, as may be the case, not behind them.
Many of us work in company offices, factories, schools, government agencies, and other environments where we not only carry out our job responsibilities, but also interact with co-workers, vendors and members of the public. We may have the technical knowledge and skills to carry out our work efficiently and proficiently, yet, consider these questions:
- What is our way of acting toward and communicating with others?
- Are we really doing our job well if we’re known for our high level of expertise or talent, yet are also known for bullying others or acting in a way that causes others to feel fearful or unsafe?
The foundation of the United States as a democratic republic, as framed by the Constitution, is the rule of law, where we all essentially agree to be bound by federal, state, regional and local laws. However, some laws have been enacted in our history, and even recently, that have limited access to the right to vote, to own property or hold a job based on gender and race. Consider this question:
- What is the impact on our democracy if we have legislation today like the Jim Crow laws (enacted in the late 19th century and enforced until 1965,) that uphold racial segregation?
As we consider answers to these questions we are examining how objective constructs such as a classroom discussion, a work place, a law or policy connects to our human-ness and experience of being in an environment that supports equality, justice and dignity for all.
When I worked on the Newsletter Perspectives on Being Human, I had the goal of raising awareness of the ideas behind the human rights framework – that all endeavors to further positive change, such as civil rights or women’s rights, could be connected by recognizing their common goal of furthering every person’s human rights. In these last 14 years of bringing attention to the UDHR, whose 30 Articles are the internationally agreed upon rights every human being everywhere ought to experience, I have come to see that knowledge of them can help bring the human element to our words and actions, whether in our homes, our work, or our community.