Human Rights Everywhere Every Day

Human Rights Everywhere Every Day

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Last Sunday was Human Rights Day and the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights advancing the promise to all of freedom, equality and justice. Take a look at the pledges that are being made to accomplish these goals at

Thinking about universal human rights at a time when there is an unbelievable amount of strife, pain, torture and sorrow to overcome may seem unrealistic. But if not now, then when. War crimes, retribution, torture, centuries-old disagreements, etc. stand in the way of resolution and peace. Who will strike the last blow before we realize the ways we have been living stand in the way of equality for all. Too many geopolitical decisions are made to enrich some parts of society at the expense of others.

As I contemplate how my life has been spent, I come to the realization of just how important that line Thomas Jefferson inserted in the Declaration of Independence — that all men (I am sure that if he was writing it today he would say “humankind”) are created equal — has been to me. Not physically or talented, but in the eyes of their creator humans have certain rights that cannot be taken away that include, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Making this promise a reality will take centuries, but we aspire to it.

As a child on a school field trip, maybe to Jamestown or to the nation’s capital, I bought a souvenir copy of the Declaration of Independence. It was printed on parchment paper in the long hand in which it was first written. I treasured it as though it was the original. I folded the edges to get it to fit into a frame and hung it above my bed for nearly two decades. I still have it! One of the messages for me as a young person I came to believe is that I did not have to resort to a poor life with limited opportunities. That ambition led to me being the second longest member to ever serve in the more than 400 years of the House of Delegates.

My goal has been to try and see that others can do the same, regardless of race, religion, color, with whom they live and all the other things that tend to separate us. The United Nations effort with Human Rights Day reminds us that we all have a part in extending human rights to everyone. That’s part of what I am going to work on as a private citizen. Please join me.