Human Rights and the Human Migration

Two predicates for civil society and peace in our world – neither of which we’ll see in our lifetimes – are widespread, localized legal and judicial systems that support social and economic equity in a majority of countries, and equal enfranchisement of, and opportunity for, women.

The migration chaos in Europe gives us a glimpse of an accelerating global crisis. If freedom, opportunity, or even survival can be found only in a few countries around the world, we will always have waves of people and families using any means whatsoever to go there, legally or illegally.

The European migrant crisis recently drew world attention when 73 men, women and children were found suffocated in a parked truck in Austria. 2500 have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea just this year, while the migrant crisis in America is actually declining – except in the political arena where it has gasified into hot air for grandstanding politicians.

People everywhere want to better their lot – a trait long revered in America. Some, however, believe it should only apply to those who are already here – even though we’ve always been a nation of immigrants – the old “I’ve got mine” syndrome. It’s an appropriate role for governments to manage immigration but quite another for would-be leaders to demonize those seeking a better life for their families.

As to womens’ rights, fundamentalist Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim efforts to subjugate women and LGBTs around the world only perpetuate global strife. The recent sentencing of 23- and 15-year-old sisters in India by a council of Hindu elders to be sexually assaulted as a punishment for a social offense committed by their brother garnered world attention. Ongoing female mutilation in Africa and Europe, widespread efforts to deny girls an education and to defund family planning only contribute to global instability of families, communities, and governments. Allow only enfranchised women to lead African countries and watch that continent change!

Cultural and religious mores and traditions vary around the globe, but our understanding of good and evil remains remarkably consistent. Men have long manipulated religion to serve their patriarchal bias. But to my knowledge, one finds little, if any religious justification for subjugating women in founding religious texts.

While our Western democracies have sporadically tried to use trade sanctions and other coercive means to broaden human rights, the most promising peaceful means of encouraging them is by example and we can do much better here at home.

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