David Lovejoy (14 October) and Jeffrey Lewis (22 October) each provide thoughtful and insightful observations regarding the narrative of oppression and the co-option of human rights language that has been adopted by anti-vax folk.
Anyone can use human rights language – terrorist, politician or priest; it’s common for despots to appeal to hard-core individualism, libertarianism and ‘freedom’. When ‘me first’ libertarian ideologies deploy human rights language, they turn important thinking into distorted and super-ficial slogans, and mask confusion.
Most significantly, human rights language has been powerfully used by civil rights movements of all kinds, from rights activism against racial apartheid in South Africa, to the rights of women, First Nations pPeoples, people with a disability, LGBTIQ+ people and more.
But, human rights are not based on ‘survival of the fittest’. They regard the individual as indivisible with the community.
Thus, we are not free to act without affecting others; there is always a consequence to our thoughts and actions (even if we ignore them). We are entangled and interdependent with each other, and therefore in a shared and mutual relationship.
Ultimately, human rights are about taking ethical care of others; essentially about empathy, curiosity and humility, and they compel us to take responsibility for the suffering and dignity of others.