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We are all born free and deserve equality and same rights

By Staff Reporter

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DECEMBER 10 was Human Rights Day. It’s 73 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The UDHR first article states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

We are all born equal.
We are all born equal.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme is “Equality – Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights.”

That first article may seem obvious to some of us – but if so, I think that’s probably a sign of privilege. If we’ve the good fortune to be born on the right side of significant inequalities, we may not know what it’s like to walk in others’ shoes.

I’ve never had to consider what reaction I’ll get because of my skin colour or name. I’ve fitted into an education system that suited me, which means I tend to fit in other structures.

I’ve been fortunate not to experience violence, financial insecurity or serious ill-health so far. And while being a Christian is now a minority experience, in Moray folk still don’t mind a minister – even a wifie!

All that privilege brings responsibility (as Spiderman nearly says). Firstly, I think there’s a need to listen to other people – to hear others’ experiences of life in Moray, the UK and the world.

We can pay attention through the news, through United Nations bodies, and through organisations like Amnesty International and the Fairer Moray Forum. That will make us aware of deep-rooted forms of discrimination that affect the most vulnerable people in societies, including women and girls, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, LGBTI people, migrants and people with disabilities, among others.

I think there are a couple of helpful outcomes from our listening. The first is to allow our attitudes to change. It’s painful to notice our biases and prejudices. They’re often shaped by the society we’ve grown up in, absorbing norms. Are we able to open ourselves to all other people as equal in dignity and rights?

The other essential outcome is to actively engage in reducing inequalities and advancing human rights, as today’s theme encourages.

We can do that at so many levels, from our everyday personal encounters to tackling global structures and emergencies.

If you’re in need of some ideas, you may find it helpful to chat to a Moray school pupil. Many of our schools participate in UNICEF UK’s “Rights Respecting Schools” awards. Our children and young people are learning about rights, how to respect others and to become responsible active citizens.

Whatever age we are, we can learn these things and put them into practice.

For example, what news is breaking your heart just now? Or who do you know who’s struggling to access support?

Can you listen to people and help them be heard? Is there something you can do to help?

Can you write to the Councillors, MSPs or MP who represent us?

For global issues, might you join in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign for people needing support www.amnesty.org.uk/write-for-rights ?

It’s Human Rights. What will you do for equality?

  • Jenny Adams is minister of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Church of Scotland. To send your thoughts on anything discussed in this column please email newsdesk@northern-scot.co.uk

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