The Rights of Man
by Jose Mario De Vega
Written on December 10, 2011, submitted March 30, 2012
According to Wikipedia: Human Rights are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being.
What is a human being? A human being is a person born into a political community whose rights are protected by the law. A human being is not merely a chemical compound or a set of molecules, but rather an entity that have dignity and morality. There is no shadow of doubt that the most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.
Dignity and morality are the very elements that constituted man’s humanity.
We are born free and equal before the eyes of the law. No law, no government, no state or social institutions can ever take away that natural right from us.
Hence, It logically follows that by virtue of man’s being human, the moment an individual is born (in fact, even the fetus is protected) his/her right is already guaranteed by the law. This is based on the principle that human rights are inherent rights. Which means in basic terms as: it is inhered in us. Hence, no government or state have the power or the discretion to delimit, trump, prejudice and abrogate this right. The moment that they do, they lose their moral ascendancy to guide and their political legitimacy to rule the people. They betrayed, in the words of Jean Jacques Rosseau, “the general will”.
In the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness — United States Declaration of Independence, (1776).
Human rights are thus conceived as universal (applicable everywhere) and egalitarian (the same for everyone). Human rights as a universal attribute of international law, categorically mandates on account of the said law; all the different jurisdiction to uphold and defend this rights.
Human rights is egalitarian by virtue of the fact that its applicability and observance applies to all and it does not look upon race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, station in life, religious creed, and other discriminatory labels and other historical accidental background of an individual. Rather, human rights are egalitarian by virtue of the fact that it applies to all human beings regardless of who they are and irrespective of what they are.
In the stirring words of Professor Emeritus, Shad Saleem Faruqi:
All human beings are entitled to some core human rights. These rights transcend time, territory, race, religion, colour, caste, creed, gender or nationality. Human rights represents universal standards for evaluating national laws and institutions. (Reflecting on the Law: “Freedom carries responsibility”, The Star, November 30th)
The basis of the universal principle lies in man’s humanity. There lies the moral power of the said law.
What is the purpose of Human rights?
Azmi Sharom said that:
And just as we have laws to protect us against thieves and thugs, so too do we have principles which prevent the rulers from abusing us… Rights are not something to be played with. It is not a political tool to be bandied about. It is fundamental, it is inherent. It is not something that can be given for it exists in us because we are civilized men and women. (Brave New World: “Understanding our rights”, The Star, December 3rd)
Charles Beitz said that: if the public discourse of peacetime global society can be said to have a common moral language, it is that of human rights. Indeed, human rights are the prevailing common moral language of our contemporary epoch!
Human rights are not mere legal concepts; they are of the indispensable element that constitutes the humanness of man.
In the beautiful words of the late senator Jose “Pepe” Diokno who lucidly stated that: “No cause is more worthy than the cause of human rights… they are what makes a man human. Deny them and you deny man’s humanity.”
The yearly observance and celebration of the International Human Rights Day on the 10th of December is not only a celebration of man’s rights; but primordially of man himself.
It is undoubtedly a celebration of us being human; being free and equal!
Again to quote Professor Emeritus Shad Saleem Faroqi:
Decent human beings must stand up and be counted and struggle to throw off chains that binds their fellow human beings…There is in this world no such force as the force of a human being determined to rise. The human soul cannot be permanently chained.
As William Faulkner forcefully stated:
I decline to accept the end of man. I refuse to accept it. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.
The struggle for a much freer, more just and humane world continues…
To All Our Fellow Human Beings: A Happy International Human Rights Day!!!
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