Humans Rights Speeches Essay Sample
We are well into the 21st century and even today we hear plights of injustice, inequality and discrimination everywhere. From the third world countries to the most developed ones, almost every day, there is an upheaval with people protesting against one thing or the other. These uncertain and violent events make one wonder, have things changed at all? Or are we still standing at the same spot that we were centuries ago, where women were not allowed to exercise their rights or Jews were not allowed to breathe? Have we not learnt anything from our past? It is human nature to consider their cause to be the most just and their trouble to be the most worrisome. We get so engrossed in our world that we forget to dig up lessons from history, which can help us ascertain how far we have come and how much have we changed.
While today, we cannot even consider women not having the rights to vote, it was an accepted reality in the 1800s. With all their talks of democracy, the western world did not allow almost half of its population to vote; based on their gender. Today, we would think of it as an atrocity, a completely unacceptable injustice but two centuries ago, it was the norm of the society until one lady decided to speak up against it. When Susan B. Anthony casted a vote, illegally in the presidential elections of 1872, she broke the vicious cycle of indifference. For it was indifference and acceptance of the unreasonable situation which lead to women not standing up for their voting rights earlier. “Indifference can be tempting, more than that, seductive.” (Wiesel). Anthony decided to break the walls of terror and took it upon her to challenge the widely accepted discrimination. Had she not taken that step, it surely would have taken women in the United States a long time to confront the unjust rules of their government. If she, like many others, had become apathetic towards the poor stature of women, solely on the basis of gender, then she would have been an equal contributor in letting the injustice prevail.
When people settle into their comfort zones, they start avoiding any interruptions in their secure lives. As Elie Wiesel, a Jewish prisoner who was freed by the Americans from Buchenwald rightly stated in his speech that indifference is not just a sin, it is a punishment. The blindness of the world towards the miserable state of the women, men and children who were being tortured mercilessly just because they were Jews, is an example of indifference. As the United States had faced many internal movements including the civil war and women rights movement in the 1800s, it was startling for the oppressed Jews to decipher, how the Americans could be so unsympathetic towards their misery. They could not comprehend how their situation could not shake the foundations of the country, which took pride in the being a democracy. Both internally and externally, the Americans were a source of great expectations and disappointments. It is undoubtedly unthinkable of refusing someone the basic right of living in their homeland, but is depriving someone of deciding who should govern their country justified? Anthony called it the most hateful atrocity to take the electoral rights away from women (Anthony). For it denied them the status of being a “citizen” of the United States and made them feel like they did not belong there. Similar was the case with the Jews, as described by Wiesel, they felt abandoned and betrayed in their own homeland. They felt like the world had turned a blind eye to their plight. Their anguish and misery was falling onto deaf ears.
These two scenarios are similar on many accounts based on justice and equality. In one case, the freedom to choose was stolen while in the other the freedom to live. In one case, the basis of discrimination was gender while in the other it was religion. The narrow mindedness of humans towards each other can be clearly seen in both scenarios. However, in Wiesel’s case, he was a victim of a far deplorable situation as his ray of hope was another country all together. His people felt so defeated and insecure that they started to look towards those in the White House to be their saviors. They had put their faith in the aid of a foreign land for they believed the Americans to be the torch bearers of democracy and justice. On the other hand, Anthony was fighting for her rights with her own countrymen. She was raising voice against her own government and was on a mission to make herself count as the citizen of her own country. What further differentiates the two is that while Wiesel voiced his fears and apprehensions, he also highlighted a positive side of the situation. With all that he and many others like him had been through, he acknowledged the defeat of Nazis, the collapse of communism and peace treaties amongst various nations as positive developments towards a better world. But Anthony’s speech was aggressive and assertive, she wanted to make her point and she did just that. She strengthened her case by quoting the Federal Constitution while Wiesel did not have any such document or treaty to support his stance. He was not on a mission to get some laws altered; his goal was to make people wonder, if after all the violence people like him had been through, had things changed or not.
Wiesel asked in his speech if the world had changed, if people had learned from their past. As we look around today, it is suffice to say that a lot has changed and a lot has not. As technology develops with each passing day, so does its negative implications in the form of warfare machineries and escalated aggressions. As awareness increases, the respect for other’s privacy and security falls. As countries sign treaties for peace, their internal wars leave them orphaned. In the 20th century, people must have thought things to be different from what they were in the 19th century, but did Wiesel and his people not face an unspeakable injustice, maybe worse than Anthony’s? The key here is indifference and people’s acceptance of it. Had the people in all the troubled parts of the world, taken a stand and stopped the evil of indifference from spreading, life might have been different today for their fellow men. It is important to not just glorify the past, but also learn from its failures. Even today, the world is divided on the basis of cast, color, creed and ethnicity. We stereotype each other and pass judgments. Difference of opinion is not tolerated as we are not patient and do not pay heed to others’ opinions. If we were to learn from our past, we would take it upon ourselves to not let any hateful comment; be it directed towards us or someone else, go unnoticed. It is imperative that we pledge to not stay silent if we witness any kind of injustice around us. We should make sure not to isolate ourselves from the hardships of others and should not allow others to promote racism and inequality as it would all come back to us, in a vicious cycle.
Anthony B. Susan. “On Women’s Right to Vote”. 1872.
Wiesel, Elie. “The Perils of Indifference”. 1999.
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