Thursday, December 08, 2011

Show them and let them show us

Missionizing, proselytizing, blandishing, preaching, lecturing, and otherwise patronizing people is not a way to convince us to act like you. Live well, love well, give much, enjoy life, be fair, be generous, and we will want to learn from you and be more like you. Is your philosophy kind? Is it helpful? Is it conducive to the success of all? That seems quite attractive to us and we want to emulate you, no matter what the name of your belief system.

Thanks to the idea that you can shove democracy down people's throats at gunpoint and bomb them into the Jeffersonian spirit, even democracy has a bad name in many parts of the Earth. More astonishingly, even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which turns 63 on December 10, 2011, has been disrespected and rejected by some because it's lorded over as though 'The West' alone has respect for human life. That is seen as astonishing arrogant hypocrisy by those from 'The East' who suffer frequently under our bombs and occupations. There is only one way to 'sell' human rights: practice them toward all.

Governments all over the world claim to speak for their countries and Muslim leaders rejected the UDHR, substituting their Cairo Declaration. However, in actual recent post-Arab Spring polls, the people themselves favor freedoms, including equal rights for women. They gained the right to express themselves and that is what they say. Afghans and Iraqis will struggle with all of this because they have suffered occupation by a massive armed force with overwhelming weapons in the name of democracy and human rights. Crowing that we are there to protect women and then leaving is a guarantee that women will suffer far more than the women who joined in freeing themselves alongside their brothers in Tunisia and Egypt and it will be much better for women in general if and when the nonviolent Arab Spring succeeds in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Arab world.

Should the UN have a role in promoting human rights? More Kenyans (94 percent) than US Americans (70 percent) think so. The majority of people polled--from democracies and authoritarian governments alike--were in favor of more UN promotion and monitoring of human rights.

Nonviolence is the promise for more human rights and more democracy. People who watch others learn from them and if we live lives of nonviolence and guarantee all humans all rights others will want to copy the best of who we are. Shooting them with drones in the name of democracy and human rights is a failed and failing policy. Let's learn from those we presume to teach. Very few of us want a Hamas-style government because we can see them oppressing their own. Just like the US giving a wonderful practice--democracy--a bad name when it's associated with violence, an Islamic theocracy gives Islam a bad name when it's conflated with violence. US troops kicking in doors won't recruit anyone to a love for our form of government any more than Islamic clerics sanctioning death by stoning for adultery does anything but drive most of us away from Islam. We can see the violence and we Just Say No Thanks. Very few of us want a Syrian Bashir al-Asad or an Ahmadinijad, let alone a Taliban-style religion, just as most Iraqis now express more nostalgia for Saddam than faith in their US-installed democracy. We showed them pain and told them to like it. Unsurprisingly, they don't.

Eleanor Roosevelt was the US driving force behind the UDHR and called it a sort of Magna Carta for all. Using nonviolence to enforce human rights is how they are both achieved in the means of seeking them and keeping them. A completely nonviolent foreign policy and a much deeper respect for domestic civil and human rights would have more of the world more excited to learn from us. We we eliminate enemies by making them into friends. How radical.

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