Monday, January 9, 2017

Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day
The Term “holiday” comes from “Holy Day;” how appropriate to begin the year with recognition of intrinsic gifts from our Creator and a celebration of human rights. One of the first and oldest documents referencing human rights came to mankind in the form of the 10 Commandments in the Bible; also known as the Aseret ha-D'varim in the Torah. Instead of the usual worldly governing model of a monarchy granting subjects limited rights, God gave instructions for building a culture where each individual could enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The struggle for human rights has been long and arduous and championed by many distinguished individuals throughout the history of the world. Some of names that come to mind are Moses, who petitioned Pharaoh for the release of Israel from bondage, Joan of Arc who led French forces against British occupiers, Martin Luther and the Reformers, the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln. United States soldiers and other nations who liberated captives in the World Wars. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and many others also led the fight. Jesus Christ taught and modeled ideal behavior for peaceful, respectful living and human rights; His teachings need to be studied by all people.
Another effectual document outlining and guaranteeing rights and blessing our world is the Heaven-inspired Constitution of the United States of America. Both it and the scriptures describe God-given obligations and protections for human behavior and organizing community living in idealistic and practical ways. The Bible instructs us to love God first, then to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are commanded to observe God’s laws, honor our parents, not to kill, commit adultery, steal, lie and covet. These are the baseline behaviors to minimize troubles and provide for more peace and happiness. Some of the brightest minds ever known to mankind, the Founding Fathers of the United States, labored to craft the document guaranteeing an entire nation “… life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Our country was sanctified by the very sacrifice of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by early patriots who fought and laid down their lives that we might enjoy these blessings. The United States of America has become the greatest nation in the history of the world with advancements and prosperity once only imagined by the most brilliant intellectuals of the past. We along with our fathers, sons, brothers, wives, mothers and sisters have fed, policed and liberated the world. What better way can we thank our Creator than helping our brothers and sisters in need.
While Human Rights Day was set by the United Nations on December 10, In the U.S. it is mostly celebrated on the 3rd Monday in January, near the birthday of Civil Rights Activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose birthday is also remembered in January. When we hear “Civil Rights” we may think about the so-named struggle for racial equality in America in the 1960s; but the fight for civil rights has been going on as long as history has been recorded. The United States of America itself is one of the world’s greatest experiments in civil rights. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin called for an end to slavery as well as the end of monarchy overreach. These men were some of America’s first human rights activists. My ancestors Elizabeth Duncan Porter, her husband Samuel Porter and Hezekiah Tracy among others were actively engaged in the fight for freedom that was the American Revolutionary War. Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe, also worked for civil rights in the 1860s. Even the prophet Joseph Smith had a solution for ending slavery which could have prevented much misery and heartache if our country would have listened to him. He said the U.S. should sell off lands in the west and use the money to purchase the freedom of the slaves. They could then choose whether to return to Africa or stay in America.
Fine-tuning and broadening of the concept of freedom has gone on since America was founded. In the 1800’s President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionists helped to end slavery. Suffragettes worked to get women the right to vote for their leaders. 100 years later Dr. Martin Luther King and others finished the fight for equal rights for the diverse people in the United States. Across the world other people were engaged in human rights conflicts like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and numerous religious leaders. During the 20th Century American soldiers fought to liberate captives in Europe.
Rights were granted to all Americans by The Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. I find it odd that many activists and educators have not moved on from past civil rights issues, although the U.S. has and they continue to decry the abuses that were addressed and outlawed over 50 years ago. Also as the tragedy of slavery of peoples of African origin which ended over 100 years ago with the Emancipation Proclamation. Today the struggle for human rights can be found in areas such as the fight for religious freedom, the right to defend ones’ home and family, income equality, the rights of pre-born humans and the fight to end human trafficking.
It is sad to report that the rights granted by these laws and the sacrifice of lives and resources of civil rights activists have not all been accepted and enjoyed by those for whom they were intended. Fast-forward 50 years to Selma, Alabama. An unfortunately high incidence of addiction and welfare-dependence among the residents, rampant poverty, fatherlessness, high crime rates and other socio-economic woes remain among a population freed from legal and social exclusion. Government intervention was necessary but it did not solve all of the problems. As politically incorrect as it is, there is a moral dimension that needs to be addressed; Dr. King addressed societal problems and he was a Christian minister. I imagine that he would acknowledge that people in dire straits need charity, but even more they need mentors and opportunities to work to improve their situations for to a better way to life.
There are many ways we can assist others who are struggling or suffering. We can help in our community by contributing to food banks, organizations that promote literacy or help refugees. We can donate clothes, toys and household items to charity and help in the schools. For global suffering we can give time or donations to humanitarian causes, efforts to provide clean water, money to start businesses and send sanitary products to girls in poor countries. Our brothers and sisters in the military, our law enforcement officers and others continue to provide the freedoms we are promised by our Constitution and help the cause of freedom as they serve here and around the world. Brave men and women work to end human trafficking and save the lives of children here and abroad.
There are orphanages that need help, dental and medical care, clean water, clothing and food for the children; not all countries provide for orphans and the need is great especially in Africa where so many adults die from diseases. 
 I don’t think we should forget the men and women who take up the torch to teach and remind us to be good neighbors and generous and kind to humanity. Also those who promote cybersecurity and pass laws to protect human rights.
To help children understand that all people have basic “rights” and that as humans it is our responsibility to help provide for those in need; here are a few items to consider. Perhaps your family can come up with additional rights/needs that can be met to help people to be healthy and happy.

Clean water and air
Adequate nutritious food to eat
A safe and clean place to sleep, live and work
Clothing to keep one modest and warm
Basic quality education, literacy and the freedom, opportunity and ability to be self-sustaining and self-reliant
Basic medical care
Stewardship over one’s family and resources
Freedom from prejudice, injury and loss based on ones’ religious beliefs, gender, race, age, disabilities and other personal factors.
What would you add to this list?

On a small and personal note, I’d like to share a story about the hearts of little children. When my oldest son Bill was in kindergarten I volunteered one afternoon a week at his school. One day he came home and told me there was a new girl named Kim in his class. The next time I worked at his school I had a chance to meet Kim. She had made lots of friends and was engaged in her new school. She was also the only African-American student in our little country elementary school. None of the students seemed to notice that she looked a bit different, they saw and accepted her with eyes of love. If only the rest of us could remember to do the same.

To help our families become passionate about human rights we can learn about some of the great stories of courage and leadership by reading stories and watching movies about the people and struggles for independence here and internationally.

BOOKS AND MOVIES (Try biographies from the children’s section at the library)
Biographies about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman
A few movies and television shows I recommend are listed, most are appropriate for older children, you may want to preview them before showing your family
The Founding Brothers: 2002 documentary tv movie
Selma: motion picture released in 2014 (the violence portrayed may be too intense for small children)
Joan of Arc: BYUtv 2015
Founding Fathers: 2000: tv documentary
American Ride episodes: tv documentaries
Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech on Youtube

·         With the new gifts of Christmas received just a few weeks ago, you and your children may have excess items. Have each child collect clothes, toys and belongings that can be donated to charity or sold with the proceeds going to help the needy.
·         Call a food bank, women’s or homeless shelter and find out what kind of donations they need. Collect or purchase the items and deliver them to the organization.
·         Children are no longer kept from education to work as cheap labor in the U.S. but as of the writing of this manuscript, human rights abuses in the U.S. include the trafficking and exploitation of humans, especially women and children in sex trades and the curtailment of rights and persecution of Christians. Pre-born children have no rights or protection under current laws, millions are killed and aborted each year. Let your elected officials know that action needs to be taken.
·         This is a big commitment but if you are able you may consider taking a foster child or helping a family that is caring for a relative’s child or foster child.
·         If you know of a family that has had a recent death, send them some money to help cover burial costs.
·         Because it is January and people in colder areas may be indoors and have a little extra time, knit or crochet caps and mittens for the less-fortunate.
·         Contribute to causes that promote humanitarian practices and have the majority of the assets actually going to the intended recipients not program administrators.
·         Education and business start-up funds and counseling
·         Organizations that help orphans and young women, especially in Africa where the governments often do not feed or provide for the large number of children who are in orphanages because their parents succumbed to AIDS and other diseases and addictions.
·         Organizations that donate and set up supplies of clean water equipment and wells.
·         People that build and modernize schools and shelters.
·         Days For Girls provides sanitary supplies to poor girls in Africa to enable them to stay in school during their monthly periods.
·         Join Rotary International or one of the groups that provide immunizations, medical and dental care for underserved populations.
·         Shop at stores that sell handmade goods from developing countries
·         Because Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday of January 15th was the impetus for Human Rights Day in January we might honor his contribution by celebrating with a dinner featuring some of his favorite foods: fried chicken, collard greens, corn bread and pecan pie.
·         Watch his sincere and moving “I have a dream” speech.

In Utah Human Rights Day is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in January, near the birthday of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King was concerned about the abuses of the rights and safety of racial minorities and led peaceful awareness campaigns and protests seeking the granting of protection and equal rights to all individuals regardless of race. Like so many human rights activists he was martyred by an assassin. To honor his memory, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Human Rights Day and other celebrations are held throughout the U.S.
·         Serve a simple meal and donate the cost of dining out or fancier fare to humanitarian causes.
·         Watch for Eagle Scout projects; especially donating backpacks, shoes and school supplies to less-fortunate students.
·         Make heart in hand cookies to inspire generosity

Dr. King grew up in the South and enjoyed these classic regional favorites: fried chicken, corn bread and pecan pie. These oven-baked comfort foods are so tasty and satisfying in the mid-winter chill. They were also similar to those served by Chick-fil-A to the blood donors of the Orlando mass-shooting.
Oven-baked Fried Chicken
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large plastic food storage bag mix together
½ C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp paprika
In a 9” x 13” baking dish, add
½ C butter
½ C oil
Place in the preheated oven until butter melts. Remove from oven. With a pair of tongs, dip in the butter/oil mixture, then place in bag to coat with flour
6-8 pieces of raw chicken (breast halves, drumsticks, thighs, etc.)
            Place in pan and return to oven. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, turn and put the cornbread in the oven to bake. Cook chicken another 40 minutes or until it tests done at least 165° and the juices are clear.

Collard Greens
            Fry until crisp in an uncovered in a pan with a lid
6 slices of bacon
Remove and drain on paper towels. Crumble when cool, reserve. Chop and add to bacon grease, cooking until tender
1 medium onion
Chop and add to onion, cooking until light golden then remove from heat
3 garlic cloves
Cut along the stems to remove leaves. Cut into 1” slices
1 bunch collard green leaves
            Add leaves to onions. Toss in
3 C chicken broth
Cover and cook until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove lid, add crumbled bacon. Sprinkle over red pepper flakes.

Corn bread
Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a 9” square pan and set aside. In a large mixing
bowl sift together
1 C all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/3 C sugar
1 C cornmeal
            Set aside. In a microwavable bowl melt in the microwave oven
¼ C butter
1 C milk
2 eggs
Stir into dry ingredients. Spoon into greased baking dish and bake at 400° for about 40 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve hot with butter and honey or jam.

Southern Pecan Pie
            Use a purchased frozen deep dish piecrust, thawed, or this simple crust.
Add to the bowl of a food processor 
1/2 C butter, chilled and cut into 8 chunks,
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C cake flour
Pulse butter and flour, until consistency of coarse crumbs. Drip down feed tube
 1/4 C cold water
 Add more water for dough to form a large ball, if needed. Process as little as possible, overworking the dough causes it to become tough. Wrap and chill for 1/2 hour. Roll out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, to 1/8" inch thickness. Carefully place in 9" pie pan, crimping edges.
Preheat oven to 350°. Melt then cool
2 Tbsp butter
In a mixing bowl, combine melted butter with
1 C sugar
1 C dark corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
Carefully pour filling into crust. Add
2 C pecans
arrange in an attractive pattern. Bake pie at 350° for 55 minutes to an hour, or until knife inserted off-center comes out clean.