Human Rights and Globalism

Hearing about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at yesterday’s NYU reunion got me thinking. I freakin’ love global movements for peace. And just because I have a global mindset, this does not mean I do not love my own country any less. It reminds me of the hymn, “This is My Song,”

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

Why do people — the pres’s base — hate globalists? Why do they cheer when this president calls himself a nationalist, implying he is a white nationalist? That is so creepy, harkening back to racist days of the kkk, antisemitism, hate crimes.

I understand patriotism, I love my country. But I refuse to accept the notion of nationalism — that one country or race is superior to another. This line of thinking leads to ethnic cleansing and Nazism. And I’m not going to let us go there. On a far less deadly trajectory, I equate our nationalist leader with a teacher who chooses favorites. It is a dangerous slope. A country’s leaders must care for all citizens, not just those who cheer at his rallies. And supporting other countries diplomatically is not a sign of weakened borders but of mutual respect.

I love and wish we would follow the Declaration of Human Rights. It makes so much sense. I also love the United Nations. I understand that it is flawed and bureaucrats are silo-ed and sometimes they talk for the sake of talking and they don’t do enough. Despite its imperfections, the UN is the best international vessel we have for agreeing on rights — such at the prevention of torture.

cvt-stp_640Once I visited the Center for Victims of Torture in St. Paul, and the dark paneled walls of this suburban home-like office were decorated with bright quotes from the Declaration of Human Rights. The words comforted me, reminding me of our shared humanity. At that time, about 2005, McCain had crafted legislation, this was during the Bush era, mind you, banning torture. This is why I have always respected John McCain — not that I agreed with him on everything, but I agreed with him, unequivocally, on banning torture.

Well-crafted declarations like the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms our connection across the human race. We are more alike than dissimilar. This matters. We, as a nation, must not impose superiority over other nations or peoples who may appear different than the white males in power. How would we feel if other countries did that to us? We must all work to end intolerance, bigotry, hatred, nationalism — white people, like me, especially.

It is no surprise that having worked at the General Board of Global Ministries or other international church agencies for practically my entire adult life, I would find the term ‘globalist’ inoffensive. Working in tandem with brothers and sisters and all people across country demarcations only makes sense to me. It is my Christian witness — to care for one another, near and far, in their need and/or in their abundance. I want for all of us to be good stewards of our shared earth and our human family.

This Is My Song
Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness

…My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.

This post was inspired by Jennifer Butler’s Why Nationalism is Dangerous and Incompatible with Christianity at the Red Letter Christians. Why Red Letter? ‘By calling ourselves Red Letter Christians, we refer to the fact that in many Bibles the words of Jesus are printed in red.’ 

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