The ongoing trial of confessed Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik not only demonstrates the degree of hate that he had for others, as he justifies murdering over 70 children. It also draws attention to others who share his view. On April 18, Norwegian news media reported on a "pen pal" for Mr. Breivik in the United States who believes that the murder of such innocent children was "necessary." The ideology behind such hate is important, but it is not the point on this article.
Let us simply agree that no ideology of any kind justifies murdering children. Let us simply agree that any ideology -- that would hate others of any identity group so much that they believe innocent children or any people deserve to be murdered -- has an inherent basis in HATE. It could be any ideology that is against people of a given race, gender, religion, ethnic background, culture, nationality, or any other identity group. It is not just objectionable in this instance; it is objectionable in ANY instance.
Sadly, Mr. Breivik is not alone in his views on the expendable nature of our fellow human beings' lives. Too many can rationalize violence, murder, and hatred of others, and there is no end to extremists with such cruel and inhuman ideologies. In the American national press, Mr. Breivik's friend was identified (which I will not do here other than "Mr. F."). Moreover, the press also posted a link this Mr. F.'s Facebook web page.
Suddenly, all the person's "Facebook friends" were suddenly the "friend" of a person who thinks it is acceptable to murder children. Can you imagine how cruel and shocking to expose your "friends" or even acquaintances to this? One day, on Facebook a young man is a student busy at school, or a woman is a waitress, or someone is a relative, or watches the same mainstream television program. The next day, they are the "Facebook friend" of someone who applauds the murder of children. No one deserves to be blindsided by such hate. (I specifically waited until Mr. F's Facebook page was taken down before I wrote this article.)
They were no doubt in stunned shock. Then of course, the natural response would be that they don't agree with such extremist positions! One day, you are busy at school, at work, or at home. The next day, you are associated with an extremist. It is not fair.
But there is something we can do about this. I understand all of us are busy, but we must make time for our social responsibility. Social responsibility is an essential part of our balance in life that helps define who we are, and what we believe. We must let our friends, our associates, and our families know that we support: human rights, equality, and compassion for all.
-- Human Rights for All. We must make time in our lives to demonstrate our individual and personal commitment to universal human rights, dignity, and respect for others. This applies to all of us. When we support such human rights, they are not just for one race, one culture, one religion, one gender, one nationality, but for ALL of our brothers and sisters in humanity. The most essential of our universal human rights is our right to life. This was a right that Mr. Breivik and countless other extremists around the world in various identity groups are willing to deny to our fellow human beings. Such right to life is an inherent part of standing for human rights. It is codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is part of the inherent declaration of what it means to be an American. As the UDHR states in Article 3, "Everyone has the right to life..." and as U.S. Declaration of Independence states that among our unalienable rights "are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." So when we state we support human rights, it is important to understand the magnitude of what we support. It is also important to let others know what we believe.
-- Equal Rights for All. The other aspect of such human rights is a commitment to equal human rights for ALL people. There are those who object to such commitment to human equality. They find the very word "equality" to be offensive. You will find the anti-equality extremists in a broad range of identity extremists and supremacists. But we support such equal rights as an inherent definition of such universal human rights, including the right of freedom of conscience, religion, speech, and expression. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal.
-- Compassion for All. The final and most important part of human rights is human compassion. We cannot live in hate and support human rights. We must Choose Love, Not Hate. We cannot be a coherent society based on cruelty and indifference. There is no "other," there is only just our fellow human beings, no matter how we agree or disagree. We must find a way to offer an outstretched hand, not Mr. Breivik's upraised fist, to our fellow human beings.
-- Let Others Know Who You Are. Our friends know a lot about us. They know our appearance. They know the books we read, the entertainment we enjoy, and the foods we eat. But do they know our stand on human rights? Let others know who you are. Certainly, your shared commitment to human rights, equal rights, and compassion is just as important as such other aspects of life. Send a message today to your friends, your acquaintances, your family: "Human Rights, Equal Rights, and Compassion for All." In your social networking, make sure that those you know understand your commitment.
If they don't accept you as a friend with that position, then you need to find out why. We can't expect that everyone has an "understanding" on these essentials in the world today.
We need to constantly remind others and ourselves what we believe in:
Who knows what life you may change by standing up for these values? Who knows what person may have to think twice before something they say or do? Maybe it will even be you or me.
When we stand for human rights, equal rights, and compassion, we can never be blindsided by hate.
The darkness of hate will see us coming a mile away by the light of life and conscience in our views. No, we will not be blindsided by hate. But those who have come to believe that hate is acceptable choice in our society will see that there are other alternatives in life.
They will see that we can make other choices. We can choose human rights, equal rights, and compassion for all.
Together, we CAN be Responsible for Equality And Liberty.