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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

An Open Letter To The World - Human Rights Day 2009

10 December, 2009

Dear Fellow Humans-

Have you ever felt overrun by mixed emotions? That's where I'm at as I write to you. Today, as many of you know, is Human Rights Day, set aside by the UN to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified this day in 1948. This document was created in the wake of a World War that saw millions of persons killed because of religious, ethnic, racial, or societal distinctions, and millions more oppressed for the same reasons [some of which happened right here in the US]. The Universal Declaration simply and clearly lists the basic rights of every human being.

Now I know that some nations ignore rights that most of the world take for granted. Bloggers around the world, no doubt, will report on individuals who have been jailed, for years, for the simple act of sending an e-mail [China]. Or, perhaps, some will write about religion-based oppression of woman [Afghanistan]. Still others will note police violence against innocent citizens [Brazil], or oppressive laws that deny freedom of sexuality [Lithuania]. But I've got to be really honest here. As much as I am discouraged and disheartened by these human rights violations, I am somewhat jealous of these nations as well. Each one of them; indeed, virtually every civilized nation on Earth, has something that I, as an American, am denied - access to free, government-funded, health care.

If you happen to have a copy of the Universal Declaration [if not, click on the link above], I draw your attention to Article 25. Quoting Heading 1: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care..."[emphasis mine]. The United States is one of many signatories of the Universal Declaration. But it stands out like a sore thumb when it comes to its disregard of this Article. Health care "reform" has been one of the major themes of the almost-ended political year here. But, as our associates at Amnesty International [one of today's sponsors] point out, the "new and improved" health care plan does little to address several major deficiencies.
I guess I would feel better about the American system if it got results. But it doesn't. While spending more money than any other nation, the US ranked 37th in the most-recent World Health Organization's rating of health-care quality [among the nations having better results: Canada, the UK, Oman, Cypress, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco]. Even those "fortunate" enough to have health insurance are frequently beggared by payment of premiums, fees, etc [including Your Friendly Letterwriter].
Maybe it's just me, but until America has its own house in order, perhaps we should have a moratorium on intervention [critical or otherwise] of anybody else. Hey, oppression is bad [we all get that]; but, as Martin Luther King, Jr. noted, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane".
-Mike Riley

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