Part of furthering human rights and pursuing social justice is navigating complex and nuanced subjects. Social issues are multilayered and connect to deeply held beliefs and ideas, often generating strong emotions.

UDHR Article 19 says, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” How to experience this right when opinions may be very different, and emotions may be highly charged, is the challenge.

In order to communicate, whether through writing, speaking or posting on social media, so that others can listen with open minds and a willingness to exchange ideas without hostility or aggression, we need tools to:

  • Build empathy as we share our histories and personal stories,
  • Examine information with critical thinking,
  • Gain awareness about how our words and actions affect others
  • Communicate effectively so that others will listen without feeling defensive
  • Develop resilience and knowledge to address challenges with enthusiasm and patience for the much-needed effort and time, rather than feeling defeat and limitation in the face of adversity.

Here is a start to some Resources to provide some of these tools, and we look forward to building on these resources over time. Please share any you have by contacting us at info@theworldasitcouldbe.org.

Growth Mindset

The “Growth Mindset” is from Carol Dweck, Ph.D.’s work on shifting show we look at success, failure, and growth. Here are some resources on this framework:

Social Emotional Learning

Social Emotion Learning (SEL) is another tool for building a range of skills to handle complex and diverse issues through a human rights lens.

Community Connection & Engagement

Intersectionality

Word cloud with fallacies in the shape of a speech bubble

Words, Rhetoric, and Philosophies in Action

Understanding how we communicate information, deciphering what we and others mean, and identifying confusing or false arguments is key to working through and with our differences. Here are some useful guides for learning more about the art of communication.

Whataboutism: what it is and why it’s such a popular tactic in arguments (The Conversation)

Whataboutism is an argumentative tactic where a person or group responds to an accusation or difficult question by deflection. Instead of addressing the point made, they counter it with “but what about X?”.

Excerpt:

More pernicious is when whataboutism is put to work as a misinformation tool. Since the cold war era Russian propagandists have responded to criticism of Russian policies by immediately pointing out that western countries have similar policies… The sophists were the propagandists of ancient times. They prided themselves on being able to convince an audience – using any means available, including whataboutism – of any conclusion, irrespective of its truth

What Is Sophistry? (Thought Co.)

Reasoning that appears sound but is misleading or fallacious is known as sophistry. In Metaphysics, Aristotle defines sophistry as “wisdom in appearance only.”

From the article on Whataboutism above, “Plato was an ardent critic of the sophists. He vehemently made the point that arguments should be aimed at truth.”

Fallacies (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Excerpt:

The first known systematic study of fallacies was due to Aristotle in his De Sophisticis Elenchis (Sophistical Refutations), an appendix to the Topics. He listed thirteen types. After the Dark Ages, fallacies were again studied systematically in Medieval Europe. This is why so many fallacies have Latin names. The third major period of study of the fallacies began in the later twentieth century due to renewed interest from the disciplines of philosophy, logic, communication studies, rhetoric, psychology, and artificial intelligence.

Using the UDHR to Guide Positve Action