On December 5th I attended my first guest lecture called, 50 Years of Gender Revolution. The guest speaker was Stephanie Coontz who teaches history at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. The event was put on and sponsored by the UH Manoa American Studies program. This topic was completely out of my areas of interest and I admit I don’t really know a great deal about this subject, and I guess that has something to do with the generation I was born into, but I’m not entirely clueless. And so, I walked into the lecture not knowing what to expect. But isn’t that exploring?
I was very impressed by Coontz’ scholarly background. She has appeared on various television interviews ranging from news outlets to shows like the Colbert Report. Her works and writings have been featured in the New York Times as well as Vogue Magazine. But despite her impressive background, I was slightly disturbed by some of the statements she was making. The reason that is so is it seemed like most of her lecture she brought up an overwhelming amount of statistics. Some of which were the rise in women’s salaries and the fall of men’s. Almost all of her of her statistics were something of men’s falling or decreasing while that of women’s increased or rose. Its not the volume of statistics that she brought up that disturbed me but the way she presented them. She stated that she was not rejoicing in these changes but I found that a little difficult to believe because of what seemed like joy in her voice.
I must make it absolutely clear that I am not a sexist nor am I misogynist and I firmly believe there cannot be equality if one side is elevated over another, even if that side has been on the lower end before, because then we’ll just have another case of inequality. I must say, I think it is difficult for me to understand it all or even appreciate these statistics because I am a male and primarily because I did not grow up in that time period and I did not see how women were treated and deprived of their rights. Despite the large amount of statistics, Coontz painted a picture of how women were treated. Overall it was an interesting and different and not what I’m used to lecture.
Eleanor Roosevelt presenting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the United Nations General Assembly
December 10, marks an incredibly important day in history that is often overlooked or forgotten. On this day, in 1948 Eleanor Roosevelt presented the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to the United Nations General Assembly. And on this day the nations of the world adopted the idea that every person has certain undeniable rights simply because they are human, regardless of their race, nationality, gender, age and so on.
It took two world wars and over ninety million deaths world wide for this idea to be created. There are thirty articles in the declaration stating specifically what each right is.
I feel that the UDHR has not been as successful as say our constitutional rights because the public is not educated on the Human Rights like they are with the constitutional rights. I hope that one day this will be realized and the UDHR will be taught in schools around the world. It is my opinion that the UDHR is not meant just for governments but to also serve as sort of like a guide line to the average person on how to treat those around them. Eleanor Roosevelt put it so beautifully, she said,
“Where after all do universal human rights begin? In small places, closes to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: The neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
The UDHR has had a huge impact on my life. Although the UDHR is not a law I feel these rights should be protected. In the recent years I have seen countless times where people’s human rights are infringed upon and it pains me to see it happen and to sit here helplessly. That is why I am continuing my education to get a BS in Political Science and hopefully study International Law at the United Nations University of Peace, so I can equip myself with the best tools available to protect our Human Rights.
In World history 151 we had just finished reading the Epic of Sundiata. During one of the lectures Prof. Chappell was talking about how one will notice the syncretism of Islam and and traditional eliefs in that particularpart of Africa. It was very peculiar, they would say things like”Allah the almighty” but believed in other spirits and such. I pondered the contradiction of practicing a religion that has faith in one supreme God yet believes in other supernatural beings and it dawned on me, that this same is done right here in Hawaii! Many times I have heard from people, particularly those who are native Hawaiian who are practicing Christians talk about Hawaiian superstitions and I have heard from a good amount of Christian Hawaiians that they have seen or encountered Pele. The story I’ll here goes something like, “I saw an old lady in a white Mu’u mu’u walking her dog on the side of the road and when I went back the grass had burn marks in the shape of feet.” I do not mean to mock these people’s beliefs but I cant understand how someone can be part of a religion that believes in one supreme god but also believes in other gods. I think this syncretism occurs in various places because of where the person was raised and the environment of their upbringing. The people I mentioned earlier grew up on Kauai and Lanai. I infer that these outer islands haven’t let go of their cultural identies as much as those here on Oahu. And perhaps that might be because there was and is much more national and international travelers and settlers here on Oahu that influenced the culture, just like the trade cities in Africa.