Every day somewhere in the world, an innocent child dies from starvation, a family is threatened by war or disaster and flees their home with their pets and children to find refuge, a mother becomes ill from polluted water, a small boy shelters under a bridge in the snow, and a grandma in the remote mountains dies from lack of medical expertise.
In fact, every second, one person somewhere on the planet, dies from starvation. It is estimated that one in every six people don’t get enough food to eat and this year 36 million people and children will die from hunger. The UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency says there are 68.5 million people displaced worldwide. Of these 25.5 million are refugees. And each day, 44,400 people flee their homes due to conflict and persecution.
While these figures are breathtaking in their enormity, these are the lives of ordinary people, just like you and I. People who want to live a peaceful, happy life with their families. We all want the same things, to love, be loved, to care for our families, to work and to play. Yet, every day an unbelievable amount of people die from a lack of the most basic human needs so many of us take absolutely for granted. On this 70th celebration of Human Rights Day, we can reflect on how we can each dig deeper into our hearts and stand up to make a bigger difference in the world. It is a day to recommit ourselves to protecting the safety and fundamental human rights of all people.
The Small Things Add Up
Instead of becoming hopeless and depressed about the sheer enormity of the plight of so many, we must instead focus on what we can do. Because in fact we can do so much and even helping one family or one child is a fantastic difference. If 7.2 billion people all did something to help each other, that adds up to something extraordinary.
If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. – His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Each one of us has the capacity and power to make a change. And when we are fuelled by kindness and a heartfelt desire to help our brothers and sisters, anything is possible. Most people, given the chance, want to help and do good in the world. They just don’t know how to go about it. Yet, kindness can underline our parenting, our relationships, our work, and our daily interactions.
Every day we can align with our hearts, and take a small step to support world peace, by reaching out into our community, sharing ourselves and our skills or resources and helping just one person. This simple act of kindness will grow and ripple out further than we can imagine.
The Ripple Effect of Kindness
All over the world, people are answering the call of kindness. You can too. Ordinary people are setting up amazing charities, like backpacker Maggie Doyne, the then 19-year-old who was moved to save one street urchin in Nepal. She used her life savings to buy land so she could build an orphanage which now houses over 50 children. Ten years later, she has made an enormous impact on the lives of so many children, altering their future forever. Or yoga teacher Atira Tan, who found a passion within her to save the thousands of children and women who are victims of the sex trade in Nepal. Her choice to make a difference has saved and rehabilitated hundreds of women, who she now trains and employs as part of her charity Art 2 Healing to be able to support other women and children who have been enslaved by sex traffickers.
Each one of us can do something, even if it’s the simple act of sponsoring a child or donating regularly to a charity. Many hands coming together change the world. Spiritual teacher Andrew Harvey implores us in his incredible book, The Hope, to respond to global challenges with the transforming power of love and compassion.
Strengthened by prayer, practice and inspiration, turn now to your life and the people in it. Everyone, especially in a time like ours, has friends who are in grief, or ill, or looking for a job, or are in real financial difficulty. Commit now to ringing one of them up, and ask him or her what you could do to make their burden easier. Do this soon and be happy that you can.
When we fill our hearts with the gratitude for the gifts in our own life, we have the fuel to support others. Andrew Harvey shares the importance of a commitment to spiritual practice in keeping our hearts inspired with love and wisdom and aligned with the ‘”pure deep love” that is longing to use us as its instrument in the world.
Make a commitment today, even if you are in financial difficulties, to tithe between five and ten percent of what you earn to a cause of your choice. I recommend choosing one particular cause that deeply moves you and sticking to your commitment, whatever happens; over time, tithing like this will give you a great and healing sense of being of use and the cause you are helping will become more and more precious and personal to you, and you will want, naturally and simply, to do more.
Standing Up for Human Rights
This year’s Human Rights Day advocates for everyone to stand up for their rights and those of others–civil, economic, political and cultural rights. Additionally, the day aims to enlighten us about how our rights are a foundation of sustainable development and peaceful societies. The 2018 commemoration of Human Rights Day marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of 70 years since the international community adopted the declaration. We celebrate all our inalienable rights and freedoms, including a right to education, a decent living, health care and a right to live free from any form of discrimination among others.
Let’s build a beautiful world for all, where all children feel safe, everyone has enough to eat and communities are strong and united.