Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite - The Four Freedoms

Today, bloggers across the world are considering the topic of human rights, as part of Bloggers Unite's First Anniversary Celebration. I am happy to join my thoughts to the conversation, and grateful to God and the many brave soldiers of every nation that fights for freedom that I have the privilege to do so.

There are many who say we live in dark times. Sadly, I must agree. The forces of repression and subjugation are strong at this hour. But so are the forces that take up the cause of freedom. At another dark hour in the world's history, the winter of 1941, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the question that is at the root of any discussion of human rights: what are the fundamental, unarguable rights of a human being? In other words, what do those who fight for human rights truly fight for?

On January 6, 1941, President Roosevelt delivered that year's State of The Union Address. In addition to giving the President a chance to speak his mind on the direction the nation was going, it gave Roosevelt the opportunity to "set the agenda" for the next year. His words did more than that. They made the case for the establishment of basic rights for every person on the planet.

Consider the world that Roosevelt saw as he spoke. In Europe, Adolph Hitler's Nazi regime was bringing the free nations of that continent under his repressive control. In Italy, he found a willing associate in Benito Mussolini, the Fascist dictator. The Russian people, long under the subjugation of Joseph Stalin, were at this moment fighting for Hitler as well [Ironically, this was almost over; in July of 1941, Hitler violated a non-aggression pact with the USSR by invading Russia. The Soviets soon joined the Allies]. In Asia and the Pacific, the Japanese Imperial Forces had overrun many formerly-independent states and colonies. As the President gave his address, Great Britain was the most powerful of the world's free nations taking on the forces of oppression. Much of their armament was being constructed in the United States, a move that still met with opposition from Americans uninterested in a war they saw as Europe's to fight. After all, hadn't thousands of young Americans been killed or maimed in the First World War? And what had America gotten out of that?

But President Roosevelt saw that this war was more than just "Europe's" to fight. He saw the chance to establish a basic set of principles that future governments should, no, MUST be based upon:

"In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way--everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want--which, translated into universal terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear--which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor--anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb."

It took years of struggle, on battlefields around the world, but the forces that strove for those principles proved victorious. The principles of the "Four Freedoms" were written into the charter of the United Nations, and are recognized as the starting point for any discussion of human rights. As we explore the rights of humanity on this day, and every day, let us never forget them. Let us never feel that our rights are secure, as long as any person is not under their protection.

-Mike Riley


Sally said...

thank you for this excellent and imformative post.

Margie and Edna said...

Ooh! This is a wonderful post! Thank you so much. We love this blog!

Dave Donelson said...

Wise words from FDR. Thanks for reminding us of them.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds