Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Basic Human Rights

Human rights are interesting, mainly because a "right" is something that you assume is universally applicable and mandatory, yet the declaration of human rights was only invented by humans relatively recently. Unless we have God-given rights that humans merely discovered. That's another discussion.

Either way, it is good that we have some kind of notion of "rights" because there are so many people who have a standard of life that is unnacceptable, and we need to encourage ourselves and each other to not tolerate poverty. We can do this by refering to the "human rights" that are not being met.

However, in our western consumer society we have developed our own set of "rights" that we feel are mandatory for us; the right to watch television, for example, the right to pudding, the right to get drunk and not be told it is a bad idea, and now (as asserted by MSN) - the right to own a pair of matching shoes for every outfit! A basic human right, allegedly.

Whilst the MSN article is written with tongue and cheek in very close proximity, I'm sure there are people who would genuinely be offended if you recommended that they don't buy any more shoes until their old ones break (although cobblers do still exist! You know, cobblers. The people that mend shoes!) What is most infuriating about these unwritten rights of consumerism is that they take our attention away from the people whose basic rights (the right to eat, the right to not get shot etc.) are not being met.

We are more concerned about our freedom of entertainment to worry about other peoples' freedom.

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