The history of human rights is a long one, filled both with incredible triumphs of human respect and dignity, but also with debilitating and often violent regresses - the product of division, short-sightedness, and hatred. This history has shown us that human rights are not merely something given to mankind from above. In truth, human rights are hard fought and hard won, and each right requires a deep awareness and respect in order to be maintained.
It is to this end that the 12 Petals Media Group has created its Culture of Human Rights and Responsibilities Advocacy Production Series. Through its graphic media productions, the 12 Petals Media Group hopes not only to define and promote what a culture of human rights is, but also to shed light on the responsibility to maintain it. The short graphic film begins with a timeline of human rights, starting with Cyrus the Great's creation of the first charter of human rights in 539 B.C. and culminating with the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This genealogy shows us that human rights are not simply an idea of the East or the West, but are instead made up by a complex evolution of rights that the whole world - and every individual - has had a hand in creating. The culture of human rights, then, is not a stagnant creation of a single group of people, but is rather a living, breathing, and constantly developing philosophy grounded in shared principles.
But like any culture, a culture of human rights can regress or be replaced by a despotic regime if it is not consistently practiced and upheld by each member within a society. The effects of such a regress can be seen in areas where one group or individual sacrifices the rights of others for personal gain, be it the gain of a government, a corporation, a dictator, a religion, or other body. In each of these cases, equality and equal rights are sacrificed for expediency, and a culture of human rights is replaced by one of violence, cruelty, and forced conformity that only serves to cage and degrade the human spirit.
In this struggle, the onus thus falls on the individual to remain ever-cognizant of what it means to be engaged in a culture of human rights. This means that individuals must consider how they treat their friends, family, or members of their immediate groups or neighborhoods, but also how they care for strangers and individuals far removed from themselves. We must perceive our friends and neighbors not only as those in our immediate circles or vicinity, but as an interconnected web which spans the entire globe.
In the graphic film, the rights and freedoms that are paramount to the maintenance of a culture of human rights have been highlighted.These include the belief that all humans are born free, with a right to a standard of living adequate for shelter, the health and well-being of themselves and their families, and a right to social security in the event of a lack of livelihood; the freedom of thought, which is viewed as the prime mover in human progress and prosperity; the freedom of speech and communication, whether spoken or in writing; the right to participate in the election of the government by voting; freedom from cruel and unusual punishments; and the right to follow or not follow any religion or belief. The maintenance of these rights is the people's trust in their government, and it is understood that a government, which is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people, will protect these rights at any cost. Likewise, if the government body fails to protect and maintain these rights, it is the right of the people to disband ineffective government and replace it with a more effective one.
The basic principles mentioned above are viewed as the keystone to the development of human progress and flourishing. But as stated in the production, these rights are constantly changing and evolving, marching in step with the parade of human progress. As individuals, we must respect these rights not only to protect our personal interests, but also to extend opportunity and our shared humanity to those around us. The production concludes with a simple yet powerful equation that summarizes how to cultivate a culture of human rights, followed immediately by the responsibility of the State to uphold it for all:
You = Me = Everyone
Laws of nations should guarantee Human Rights
Human Rights for Everyone, Equality and Equal Rights for all, Equal Opportunity for all, and collaboration for all, through good words, good thoughts, and good deeds. This is the shared journey and responsibility of humanity, and the cause for which the 12 Petals Media Group has been founded to celebrate and promote.
In describing the journey and evolution of human rights, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends in the direction of justice." The 12 Petals Media Group invites you to join them in their endeavor to bend that arc still further, and to build a culture of human rights and respect for human dignity, which will grow and thrive into the future.
About the Author:
Zachary Stickney is a recent graduate of Weber State University, where he received a B.S. in Political Science and Philosophy and was selected as the Outstanding Graduate in Political Science. In 2011, he received the University's Outstanding Volunteer Service Award for his work with campus organizations and for his volunteer work in the internally displaced persons camps in Maai Mahiu, Kenya. He is currently working as the Associate Producer for Redemption, a film about structural poverty in the United States.
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Conceptual Artist: Majid Baradar
Art Director & Graphic Designer: Ardalan Payvar
Art Production By: 12Petals Media Group, Human Rights for Everyone & Everywhere. 2012
Culture of Human Production Viewing:
About: The 12Petals Media Group strives to be a union of visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, cinematographers, playwrights, socials entrepreneurs and more, all coming together to produce pieces that promote and encourage respect for those rights protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.