September 7, 2023

Art and Ideas to Inspire Celebration of American Ideals and Commitment to Include Everyone in Them

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We are now at another Fourth of July holiday that commemorates the adoption of the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.  As noted in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Jefferson,

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We hardly need any more reminders of the challenges surrounding us.  Feeling my own sense of discouragement as I listen to or read news that spurs fear and dread, I am remembering that the subject of TWAICB work – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – came into being out of the horrific state of the world that emerged from World War II, and, that this was one more point in thousands of years of history of fighting to overcome forces of oppression. What is helping me regain my own spirit is the reminder that it is the human being-ness we all share that can make the difference in how we take on our challenges.

In this 2020 Psychology Today article The Ten Universal Human Traits, Lawrence R. Samuel, Ph.D. describes the following traits we all share as human beings, listed in no particular order:

  1. Belonging. We’re all social beings, meaning we rely on meaningful relationships with others.
  2. Community. Likewise, we have a longing to be part of something bigger than our individual selves.
  3. Creativity. All humans share the drive to use their imaginations to make something that previously didn’t exist.
  4. Curiosity. We are inquisitive organisms, part survival device and part neurological mechanism to want to figure out what makes things tick.
  5. Family. The desire for kinship, biologically based or otherwise, is hard-wired into our genetic makeup.
  6. Love. Our strongest and chemically induced emotion is nature’s trick for us to perpetuate the species.
  7. Memory. Our brains are receptacles of the past, a means of passing on our life stories to the next generation for continuity.
  8. Purpose. Each of us is here for a reason, and our mission is to find out what that is and then do it as best we can.
  9. Storytelling. Chronicling and documenting some aspect of the human condition in some way to someone else is our primary form of communication.
  10. Voice. All of us have the need to express ourselves in a unique way to tell the rest of the world who we are.

This is now the 17th year of TWAICB.  Especially in light of examining the common traits of being human and concerned about how to help foster the best of these traits for positive existence and problem-solving, we seek to continue to bring attention the UDHR, especially this 75th year anniversary in order to:

  • Brighten the knowledge of the existence of the UDHR, and that we all belong to this internationally agreed-upon framework that codifies what every human being ought to experience in order to thrive in a world of peace;
  • Offer tools and resources that encourage and guide individual and collective action toward positive change, utilizing the UDHR as a frame of reference for all that is possible.
Article 2 of the UDHR

Fundamental to our Curriculum and Resource Guide, as well as to The World As It Could Be Rite of Passage Curriculum is encouraging utilization of the creative arts for both learning and expressing ideas.  We also know from our work with Frederick Marx, as well as all these years of connecting with adults and youth, that providing a rite-of-passage process to initiate youth and adults to the greater community is vital to inspiring a sense of belonging, community, purpose and voice, no less the fun of celebration among kindred spirits.

Years ago, I framed this excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? and find the emphasized quote below has a particular resonance today, though we would insert “humanhood” and “humans” in place of “brotherhood” and “brother.”

But today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world-wide neighborhood into a world-wide brotherhood. Together we must learn to live as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools…

(This excerpt from from Chapter VI “The World House.” Read a longer excerpt here or listen to the audio book for free though your public library)

We can take inspiration from all those who have come before us through major struggles of oppression, putting forward their human spirit to speak up and take action to generate better circumstances for the greater good. We hope that you will utilize the knowledge and resources we offer to connect positively with your families, friends, colleagues and greater community to exercise and enjoy your powerful human being-ness.

With appreciation and best regards,

Sandy Sohcot, Director

Featured Resources

Using the UDHR to Guide Positve Action