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Human Rights versus Human Needs

Issues of human rights become more and more prominent as time goes on.  The combination of the United Nations and independent human rights groups has brought many offenses to the attention of the world as well providing the means to deal with several of them.  Human rights violations range from discrimination to more life-threatening problems such as genocide.  While these troubles are not to be demeaned or disregarded in any way, I feel that we need to take another look at what truly defines the rights that all humans should have.

Human beings have basic needs that need to be fulfilled.  Food, shelter and safety from violence are the three primary ones.  Safety is addressed every day in many ways, though such simple needs as having enough food to eat or a place to live are often overlooked.

There are programs in place in many countries which help to deal with these issues, but they are not given precedence as actual human rights.  There are no provisions within the Constitution of the United States which state that every citizen shall be guaranteed a right to not be hungry or that we all shall have someplace to call home.  In fact, these needs are frequently assaulted by commercial entities that have decided that food and shelter should be nothing more than profitable ventures.  After all, people can not live without food.  People can live without shelter, but not in a healthy or productive way.

And so banks foreclose on houses and people are forced to live off the bare minimum to make their body function.  The government does little to step in and tell those making huge amounts of profit from the exploitation of human needs that they are obligated to help their fellow man.  You can go to jail for punching someone else in the face, but you can freely take their home and still be in the right.

Before we can address what we label as human rights, we need to put the basic needs on that list.  If we allow people to starve and remain homeless, what good is it to make sure that everyone has a right to vote?  Why attack discrimination issues when the things that are not being taken care of result in people dying every day?  If we’re going to truly try to promote human rights as a species, we’ve got to start at the bottom or everything we do is nothing more than treating symptoms when we should be treating the actual problems.