Apart from Eleanor Roosevelt’s dreadful hairstyle, the sight of her reading the Declaration of Human Rights sixty years ago today, on Human Rights Day was inspiring. I found myself thinking how far we really do have to go as a species which seems incapable of rising above barbarism, when the spirit might be willing but the flesh is undoubtedly either recalcitrant or simply weak. Pope John Paul II was right when he called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “one of the highest expressions of the human conscience of our time,” but conscience alone is no restrainer of terror.
Setting aside the manipulative politics of the hapless residents of Gaza for a moment – God knows, enough has been written about Israeli ‘apartheid’, walls and sanctions, I wonder how the cause of human rights is furthered by an Anglican church in Piccadilly allowing offensive, anti-Semitic parodies of Nine Lessons and Carols, endorsed and encouraged by Bruce Kent and Pax Christi, inter alia? Perhaps a more suitable venue next time might be Sderot, within range of Katyushka rockets where, as Ban Ki Moon has suggested, the most vulnerable continue to be on the frontline of hardship and abuse.
The image is of a 60th anniversary commemoration ceremony in Manila. One of the declaration’s 30 articles is the ‘right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’. Right.