In these last weeks of campaigning we keep hearing about the middle class. Certainly the concerns of the middle class are worthy and deserve the time and consideration of candidates. But what about those in poverty?
U.S. Human Rights Network is working to bring a focus to a growing group of Americans who have been erased in the campaign for the White House. See below to learn more about their initiative and groups working to help folks in poverty…
In commemoration of the 64th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, the U.S. Human Rights Network launched a campaign to highlight the important human rights work that our members and partners are engaged in domestically. In the 64 days leading up to December 10, otherwise known as Human Rights Day, the USHRN is highlighting 64 member and partner organizations as a way to raise awareness about the domestic human rights movement. For this week, when the United Nations recognizes October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we are featuring six organizations working with low-income communities, fighting against poverty, and challenging structural inequality. To round out the week, we also feature the important work being done at ColumbiaLawSchool’s Human Rights Institute, and the role it plays in the domestic human rights movement. Poverty is a deprivation of the full range of our economic human rights.
|HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTE – COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOLThe Human Rights Institute sits at the heart of human rights teaching, practice and scholarship at Columbia Law School. Founded in 1998 by the late Professor Louis Henkin, the Institute draws on the law school’s deep human rights tradition to support and influence human rights practice in the United States and throughout the world. Over the past several years, the Institute and the Human Rights Clinic have become increasingly integrated, enabling it to multiply their impact on the field and engage students more fully in their work.HRI currently focuses its work in three main substantive areas: Human Rights in the United States; Counterterrorism & Human Rights; and Human Rights & the Global Economy. HRI has developed distinct approaches to work in each area, building bridges between scholarship and activism, developing capacity within the legal community, engaging governments, and modeling new strategies for progress.Read more.|
This post will make the most sense for those of you who have read the Hunger Games series or at least seen the first movie. If you are reading this and have not seen the movie or read the books I recommend giving them a try if only for the questions they raise.
Simple low down – Katniss Everdeen lives in the future United States. Through different past events the U.S. has shifted from states into regional districts and the districts are ruled by the Capitol, the nation’s largest city. Katniss lives in District 12, one of the poorest districts and the one responsible for providing coal to the Capitol for energy.
The Capitol, in an effort to maintain control over the districts, holds an annual “Hunger Games.” Each district (excluding the Capitol) holds a “reaping” in which a female and male “contender” who are between the ages of 12 – 18 are selected in a drawing ran by Capitol officials. These contenders are then brought to the Capitol to live in an arena where they will fight to the death. The last one standing is considered the “victor” and when they return home may live in the “Victors Village” in their own district.
The entire “games” is televised and seen by Capitol citizens as entertainment while the families in the district must watch as one of their own children kills or is killed or both. Katniss’ sister, Primrose is chosen, but Katniss volunteers to replace her in the games. And so begins an incredible story of survival, the bounds of love, and the power of the powerful to change a life.
The Hunger Games is a gruesome story line and one that is easy to dismiss as too fantastic. When would any country demand that their children fight to the death in a televised spectacle?
And yet as you read the book or watch the film there is something chilling and familiar in the lines of the story – tell me if any of this rings a bell …
A part of the world that guzzles resources while those who live around it are cast into poverty…
A part of the world that watches “real life” on T.V. finding humor, entertainment, and even pleasure in the struggles, humiliations, and tragedies of others…
A part of the world where a child who dies in one neighborhood is treated differently than a child who may die in another neighborhood…
Sound at all familiar?
The Hunger Games draws from realities in the present and casts them into the future – what will it look one hundred years from now? Reality T.V., consumerism, government, how we are in relationship to one another?
Will the great – great grandchildren of today’s first graders stand in a line praying that their name is not called ? What do we need to create today, what do we need to change today to make sure that the “odds” will be forever in everyone’s favor.
Read the book, see the movie, have a conversation and tell me what you think.
“What you have done to the lest of these, you have done to me…”
Dear All – This week I travel to Minneapolis to be a presence with the Poor Peoples Economic Human rights Campaign as they struggle to have their voice heard at the Republican National Convention. They are doing a March for our Lives and a Truth Commission on Poverty in the United States.
Thinking of the million of dollar figures that are thrown around in regards to the campaign trail, it is amazing to think that anyone in the United States or outside of the United States has to organize to have enough to eat, a place to live, and work that respects their full dignity as a person. Yet we all know that this is the daily lived reality for so many and most tragically for so many children, who make up the largest percentage of those who fall below the “poverty line.”
The Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign, is organizing around the Declaration of Human Rights which states that poverty is a violation of human rights…the right to live safely, to be educated, and to work for a fair wage…the right to eat and drink healthy food and water…these are inherent communal rights. Not rights granted through public policy, but a lived reality that every community and institution is responsible to provide to everyone – anything less is a violation. Therefore the very notion of a “poverty line” presents the slippery public policy slope toward accepting a notion of those who will have and those who will have not, a notion that some must exist without for some to exist with all. It brings to mind St. Francis’ radical understanding of how an accumulation of goods breaches our relationship to Sacred Mystery by distorting the notion of gift that imbibes everything we live within and live with.
So please keep us and the Campaign in your prayers this week, as they work to create a creative space for the voice of the poor to speak to those in power and demand that the United States fulfill its obligation to its people, to the Declaration of Human Rights, and most importantly to its own children. For some more information on this campaign go to….http://www.economichumanrights.org/index.shtml
Many thanks to WomensWell and Sister Delmarie who will host us while we are there! – Much Peace Liz
FSPA JPICC Coordinator
8th Day Center of Justice
205 W. Monroe
Chicago, IL 60606