Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Doing the Human Rights thing takes a little more knowledge than the ever-pleasing but self-centered world renown sentence nearly everyone can blurt out..... that pursuit of happiness thing. The proper context allows us to reclaim and gather our strength away from the noise we live with in our heads, competing forces struggling for our attention. When was the last time you took time to review your rights and a little history surrounding their creation? A tour of Wikipedia may very well restore some hope in humanity if you are currently feeling disenfranchised or outcast by the Financial Racism this consumer oriented object addicted society has nurtured. You know the one I mean. The place where no place is okay if you don't have an address with legit sleeping quarters attached to it. Where you know something’s wrong but you just can't put your finger on it. The place where the Police enforce property rights as precedent over human needs.
"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 SAFETY AND HAPPINESS."
George Mason in the Virginia Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1 uses "the pursuit of Safety and Happiness." Thomas Jefferson used the combined reference again in his Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence. Safety somehow gives way to Life and Liberty along the way and by the time it reaches Madison's desk we cover the uncovered expanse of human needs and rights in the line:
SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED TO DENY OR DISPARAGE OTHERS RETAINED BY THE PEOPLE.
The "Others" is rights not spelled out for reasons obvious once the context of enumeration is understood. We pride ourselves in response to everyday crisis. Begin to falter when major catastrophe like Katrina or 9/11 come along and Chronic problems of safety like Homelessness seem to somehow provide a negative payback we can use to feel more fortunate about as we play the consumer game described at the Story of Stuff.
The American Dream needs its counterpart, The American NightMare? NOT!!! As polite as I can be I admit to being one of those Financial Racists I complained about earlier. A denial mechanism? A way to allow or permit this behavior to continue while I went about my life unaffected by and disengaged from feelings that would have told me something is really wrong here. Too caught up in the CAPITALISM game to realize that falling off the playing board had no real way back.
If Ending Homelessness is really our goal then like a Gold miner knowing that you have to clear a route by blasting away rock, our last 10 feet that stand in the way of the gold, the Safety clarification, is that rock needing blasting. This clarification of safety as a right must be seen as a mandate. It really is time we did the right thing for our homeless.
Keith Bender lives in West Springfield, VA where he is a writer, blogger, advocate, and "new wave old hippy." He previously was a realtor and owner of a homestaging business. Keith was recently homeless for over a year.