What I Meant to Say

Wendy Babiak's Visions and Revisions

Human Rights, Interdependence, All There is to Say


Something I take as a truism, though it’s apparently a new, or worse, a rejected, idea for many of my fellow human beings, is that the issue of human rights is, at bottom, the keystone for building a bridge to a sustainable future, and further, that, therefore, all human-rights issues affect and ergo should concern all human beings. None of us is free until we’re all free, that whole bag. What’s a violation of human rights is anything flowing from an attitude that one group of folks deserves treatment of a lesser quality than another; substandard treatment involving financial penalties, inhibition of opportunities, violations of privacy, liberty, neglect of safety (like in sweatshops), violence, or even death. So racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, unfair trade: all human rights issues, all issues that should concern anyone with an interest in building an inhabitable future.

Amy King asked a good question, “Is Gay the New Black?” and heard an earful, which she discusses at worth-reading length in her post, “Gay May Not Be the New Black, but…”; there, she concludes:

I realize there are homophobic blacks and racist GLBT people. This sad fact should not mean that every association and link made between the groups is somehow going to undermine what’s currently taking place with the struggles we deal with. We can also discuss how our separate-but-sometimes overlapping groups enjoy a range of privileges that others don’t. These privileges function to sustain feelings of separateness and higher positioning. I contend though that such positionings are false and the privileges are fleeting. They are the dangling carrots that block the view that we’re all in the pit together. The elite powers are few and are the richest of the rich. They share resources that we all need such as top-notch health care, freedom from fear of bodily harm and lack of resources via elite and complete police protection, access to means of mobility and shelter and other perks bought on the backs of those who labor for fractional wages. Class, sexuality, race, gender, religion—these are just a few of the premises that bias works through, fragments people into groups, and helps those on top maintain a top to sit upon unscathed.

Clearly the struggle for civil rights for the GLBT community deserves the thoughtful support of all people of goodwill. I don’t care what some old scripture seems to say (though there’s plenty of evidence that cultural homophobia has served as a distorting lens on that issue throughout its various translations), our brethren are our brethren, period. Sexual orientation doesn’t change that. Any more than race, or nationality, or economic status does. The funny thing is that all of these various ways of splitting ourselves into groups are related; any kind of fracturing leaves us, simply, fractured.

In future posts I’ll be going deeper into this idea of interdependence, which as a concept, for me, operates on so many levels, and is one I just can’t stop chewing on. The interdependence of ideas, the interdependence of these various folk, the interdependence of all lifeforms. Because even beyond our all being human beings, we are earthlings, one species among many, each of which has a place here in a functioning biosphere. I used to write from an idealistic place urging us to recognize the personhood of trees. Now, older and more exposed to the level of ignorance and hate out there, I’d be happy if we could recognize each others’. For now, that’s all there is to say.

Author: Wendy Babiak

Poet, permaculturalist, lay Carmelite. Pretty sure the world needs more love and less politics.

2 thoughts on “Human Rights, Interdependence, All There is to Say

  1. Hi Wendy!
    Great start on your new blog. I will follow your posts eagerly.
    It’s true what you said. And in all facets of the subject I also feel there is an underlining objective of creating division and separation. Keeping people at war at all levels in all types of organizations. You might notice that all news that transcend to the mass media are to keep us afraid of each other and feeding homophobia, sexism, racism, etc. It is easier to control when we are afraid as we will be asking for ever more control, even giving up our own human rights, apparently to keep us safe.

    • Hi Esther! Great to see you here.

      Re: your last statement, I agree. One of the things that kept echoing in my mind after 9/11, watching things play out, with the so-called Patriot Act, etc., was a quote from one our American founders, Benjamin Franklin: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. I don’t know how things are in that regard right now in Spain, though I’m sure things are a bit different from when I lived there in the mid-80s, when most everyone was reveling in the newfound freedom from Franco’s tyranny (though even then, among the older generations, I heard people wishing wistfully for the old times, when, in their memories, things were so much “safer”).

      I hope you are well and enjoying the New Year!

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