Michael, lawyer living in Canberra

Human rights for all
As a migrant child in Australia in the early 1970s I came to understand what racism meant and that denying human equality is wrong. Human rights have been important to me since then.
I think that “human rights for all’ means recognising everyone as equal and as part of our community.
Human rights are about how we think and feel about our fellow human beings.
Supporting human rights also means being prepared to work for a just world for everyone irrespective of their culture, gender, belief or nationality.
Human rights are woven into my life as a Baha’i and as a community member.
I have felt enormously privileged to work with people in the human rights movement who are inspirational in their dedication to human rights.
I am currently a member of a national human rights organisation and work on a variety of issues and participate in human rights consultations.
An injustice that concerns me very much is how we treat asylum seekers and others who try to cross international borders. The way we treat people because they are “foreigners” seems to me to be the global moral issue of the 21st century.
In addition, I have worked for the Baha’i community on such issues as human rights education, persecution against the Baha’is in Iran, and racism. The Baha’i teachings provide a strong foundation for working against racism, which is a terrible denial of human rights.
Working with Baha’is and friends in my local community is another dimension of human rights for me. It’s an immediate way to experience and express human rights and human responsibilities.
Human rights are not achieved in a day. In fact, sometimes progress is reversed. The achievement of an equal and inclusive community is work that is carried on by generation after generation.
Believing that God is guiding and supporting this great work is a source of strength for me. Sometimes people see human rights as grounded in anger against injustice. That doesn’t seem the right approach to me. Far more profoundly, human rights are grounded in love of our fellow human beings.
Sometimes when we think about ‘human rights’ we focus on the ‘rights’ part but I think the ‘human’ part is the most important.
There are two quotes that inspire me in relation to human rights.
One is from Baha’u’llah: “The Earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
This seems to me a basic truth that we have yet to fully live by.
Another is from Thomas Clarkson, a leading figure in the abolition of the slave trade in Britain:
“..Many of the evils, which are still left among us, may, by an union of wise and virtuous individuals, be greatly alleviated, if not entirely done away: for if the great evil of the slave-trade, so deeply entrenched by its hundred interests, has fallen prostrate before the efforts of those who attacked it, what evil of a less magnitude shall not be more easily subdued?”