This month is Universal Human Rights Month…at least, that’s what it says over on the Family Crafts calendar…so I’m going with it.
The kids and I went to the library and checked out everything we could find about human rights, and anyone they could think of that advocated for them. The kids came up with MLK, Jr., and Gandhi, and I added Rosa Parks, Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, and Sojourner Truth to start out with. Golfer also decided to include the people who were NOT advocates for human rights…Saddam Hussein and Hitler.
For the past few days we’ve been reading from We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures. It’s an amazing book. I’ve never read the actual UN declaration of Human Rights before, and if you haven’t seen or read the 30 articles either I highly recommend linking through (here) to read them.
After reading a few articles about the freedom of thought, expression, and respecting other people’s differences, Naturalist dryly noted that schools must not have read about these Human Rights yet. Which led to a great discussion about how easy it is for people to take away your human rights if you don’t know what they are and can’t stand up for them yourself.
This was a great segway into talking about the Bill of Rights set up by our country, the US. So we shifted to reading American Documents: The Bill of Rights. Once we were familiar with the rule of law protecting human rights in this country, we read the story of Rosa Parks from various sources. I asked the kids to pay attention to all the ways her human rights were being violated–either using the Bill of Rights or the Universal Human Rights proclamation as a guide.
I think it is a sobering but important idea to help kids understand that people in authority–even governments–even our own government–are not always right. So when Golfer remarked that our country was the only one without a brutal dictator in our history, I brought up that the American Indians may disagree with him. *cough*AndrewJackson*cough* Our government was responsible for taking away the human rights of countless people at one time or another…American Indians, African Americans, Women, Japanese Americans…and they could do it up to the point where people realized and stood up for their human rights.
Back again to the Bill of Rights book, especially to #4, Right to Privacy. Time for a discussion: We have the right to privacy, President Bush felt he had a right to protect us from terrorists. Hello, Patriot Act.
Pros: protection, safety, security. Cons: challenges to all kinds of civil liberties. My kids went back on forth with this for a while. I love love love listening to their ideas and discussions. I try to facilitate the discussion without putting in my own opinions–often I will play devils advocate, even if I agree with what they’re saying, just to make them think about both sides.
But in this instance, when they were at a standstill and couldn’t decide which was better…safety or civil liberties, I threw down the Benjamin Franklin quote:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Golfer thought about that for a little bit, then remarked, “Well, I guess, if I have to die…even if it is by terrorists…I’d rather die with my liberty than without it.”
Well said, little man.
I hope this is how one goes about raising revolutionaries.
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