Mat: This is a hard question. I think for me I would say the greatest threat to human rights is our ability to forget we are connected. We have an extraordinary talent to build communities and relationships, but instead of using this ability to widen our circle, we use our gift to segregate and forget about each other. And in the end people feel illegitimate, unseen, and unimportant. We all deserve dignity and we all are a part of a shared community. I look forward to hearing more responses!
Kyle: There are a million ways I want to answer this question. I think that, after mulling it over a bit, I’d have to say that “politics” is the greatest threat to human rights today. I put the word in quotes because I think that we too often use political agendas as a way to remove the humanity from a situation. If we make human trafficking, for example, into an “issue,” some sort of abstract thing that we can post about on facebook or yell at a TV screen in frustration, then it’s much easier to ignore the actual people that are suffering because of it. “Politics” is, in my opinion, too often simply a means through which those in power dehumanize human rights issues–this is the biggest threat to ever resolving these extremely real, inherently human, problems.
Mat: Kyle, awesome response. So do you think the way we make laws and talk about issues is allowing us to separate ourselves from people being afflicted or is it something else about “politics”. Anyone should feel free to jump into the conversation. I totally understand sharing your thoughts is a vulnerable process, but this is a safe space.
Kim: I think that the language we use to talk about other individuals is incredibly damaging to our society’s perception of humanity. I agree with Kyle – by grouping people into categories as part of an “issue,” it makes us forget about the people involved. It’s so easy to talk or write about people in terms of categories – “the homeless,” “the hungry” – but that also makes it easy to see a person as a statistic and not a human.
Ray: I think that one of the greatest threats to human rights (at least in the United States) is the current state of campaign finance regulations. The influence of big money donors on the political process turns elected officials who should be spending their time advocating for their public into full-time fundraisers who barely have time to understand the bills they’re considering and can almost never vote their conscience. It may not seem very connected to human rights abuses, but I believe that campaign finance reform would give politicians the ability to connect with their communities, which would in turn help give voice to marginalized groups.
Omolayo: Prejudice and all its isms. But more so apathy.