Land of the Free

 

Firstly, thanks to all of the veterans who’ve fought to keep our country safe.

Secondly, I want to thank whoever is responsible for having me born in the United States.

I attended an Amnesty International regional conference the other day. The first panel I attended was on women’s rights. I was already aware that women are treated as secondary citizens in many countries, but reminders never cease to appall me.

The panelists specifically discussed women’s plight in Iran, Afghanistan, and Africa. They told tales of girls being sold like cattle to be married off at 11 years of age. How women who are lucky enough to be allowed to attend college are segregated from men and taught different (=unequal) subjects. How it’s legal for men to have mistresses, but if a woman is seen with a man other than her husband (just walking down the street, riding on a bus), she will be arrested. How young girls are raped and then shunned by their families.

Here’s more information about the work that Amnesty does on behalf of women’s rights.

The second panel I attended was about abolition of the death penalty. The United States needs to get with the program.

You know which countries still uphold the death penalty?

China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Iraq…the United States.

Which one of these is not like the other???

The panelists said that the most powerful arguments against the death penalty are:

1) The fact that INNOCENT people sit on Death Row. See Troy Davis and Damien Echols and Reggie Clemons.

2) Many murder victim families even oppose the death penalty. If anyone should be entitled to want the death penalty, it should be the families of murder victims. Yet many of these families oppose the death penalty. A member of this organization spoke on the panel and it was powerful.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948. The world still has a long way to go in upholding it.

After the panel sessions, I felt slightly overwhelmed. But being with other people interested in tackling human rights violations was inspiring. Joshua Rubenstein was honored at the conference, for his 30+ years of Amnesty work. A mentee who is now a professor talked about when Josh visited her classroom, and a student asked something along the lines of, “Why do you think you can save the world?” And Josh replied, “I don’t believe I can save the world. But I can make it go to hell a little slower.”

Take that to heart, everyone! If you ever find yourself saying, “A $10 donation to xx charity won’t help much” or “My one letter to xx oppressive government won’t make a difference,” STOP and remind yourself that your seemingly small action will help the world go to hell a little slower.

 

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