As citizens of this earth, we have basic human rights. Some people, however, are a bit liberal in their interpretation of those rights. They are adamant about what they are entitled to — but when it comes to others? Well, that’s up for debate.
Donald Trump’s recent rhetoric is a great example of this mindset. On December 7th, 2015, he called for a ban on all Muslim travel to the United States. In an effort to try and show that he is willing to go to extreme measures for our country, he carelessly violated the rights of Muslims everywhere. This type of recommendation is irresponsible and careless.
Thankfully, today’s global observance — Human Rights Day — comes at a time when the entire world needs a reminder that we are all human and that we all deserve certain freedoms.
Celebrate Human Beings around the World
In 1950, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution inviting all interested countries and organizations to observe Human Rights Day on December 10 of every year. December 10 was chosen because this was the day in 1948 that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that set out fundamental human rights to be universally protected.
For 2015, the U.N. is calling for a focus on the 4 freedoms that were initially described by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941. Those freedoms are:
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of worship
- Freedom from want
- Freedom from fear
When Roosevelt called for freedom from fear, he elaborated that in world terms, this meant, in his words:
“A world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world.”
However, the timing of his speech is important to note. When FDR spoke of freedom from fear, it was January 6, 1941 — 11 months and 1 day before Pearl Harbor was attacked and America entered World War II.
At that time, the world had no idea about the dangers of asbestos exposure and FDR had no reason to voice concern. Countless brave men and women enlisted in the U.S. military, ready to fight a known global threat. However, they had no idea they would also encounter a silent enemy — asbestos — that would come back to haunt them decades later in the form of mesothelioma diagnoses.
Freedom from Fear of Asbestos-Related Diseases
As a law firm that helps victims of asbestos exposure, we cannot help but call attention to the human rights atrocities that have been committed against hardworking individuals. Every year, approximately 3,200 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Before the 1980s, the dangers of asbestos were not public knowledge. Asbestos was used in countless products due to its resilience, strength, and resistance to heat. People hailed it was a “miracle mineral,” but companies who manufactured asbestos-containing products knew better. Long before the public ever understood the hazards of asbestos exposure, manufacturers of asbestos-containing products had that knowledge — and hid it on purpose.
These companies put profits ahead of people and violated basic human rights because they wanted to make a few bucks.
Now that the risks of asbestos exposure are public knowledge, victims are plagued with fear. Some people know they were exposed, and live in fear waiting to see if they fall ill because mesothelioma can take 20-50 years to develop after initial exposure. Others have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and fear the final outcome of the disease, from which no one has ever been cured.
Although asbestos is widely regulated now in the U.S., workers are still being exposed to its deadly fibers. Some employers choose to violate workers’ rights and place them in dangerous situations, including the removal of asbestos without proper safety equipment. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) tries to ensure the safety of workers, but fear comes in to play again as some employees fear retaliation from their employers if they report safety violations.
Respect Human Rights Today — and Every Day
Today, as we celebrate Human Rights Day, please respect all human beings and the basic human rights that we are all permitted to enjoy. Also, remember that freedom from fear is much more than eliminating aggression between countries. It’s also about living and working in this world without having to fear dangerous substances like asbestos — substances that only exist to put money in the pockets of greedy corporations and hurt hardworking individuals.