Blog Action Day 2013: Human Rights at Work

October 16th, 2013

Human rights is a big issue. That’s part of what makes it such a great topic for Blog Action Day 2013. Human rights issues have always existed in the world. We know about many of them, and I have no doubt that they’ll be covered by all of the 2013 Blog Action Day posts. But I’d like to talk about human rights in a different way.


Human rights are often violated in extremely subtle, yet widespread ways. You may not recognize that you’re causing a problem, or that your rights have been violated. And it’s all about us taking a closer look at our lives, our American culture as it exists in 2013. My inspiration for this post is Article 24 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Here’s the text of Article 24: “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.”


In many countries it’s obvious that human rights violations are taking place when workers are forced to labor for long hours under the threat of termination. In America, those types of situations don’t often happen, or do they?


via flickr Sean MacEntee

via flickr Sean MacEntee


The culture surrounding work in America is sometimes a dangerous thing. Many businesses and corporations expect their salaried workers to work very long hours, often at the expense of their personal lives. It’s also the norm that many workers are expected to check their work emails and even take part in conference calls while on vacation. Workers who want to get ahead in America are expected to work late on a regular basis, and once those workers are promoted to top positions, the expectations for hours devoted to work grows even more.


I’m not promoting the idea of a lazy, too leisurely America. But what I am promoting is the idea that rest is a vital thing. We can only take care of ourselves properly when we’re allowed to rest. And not feel guilty resting. Rest and leisure can mean many things, but mostly it’s about not working. And that includes not stressing over work while not working. Americans shouldn’t be afraid to go on vacation, and we certainly shouldn’t be working on vacation. Is it a stretch to say that our American work culture violates human rights? I don’t think so. Do you agree?


While we’re discussing The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I believe that it’s important to note that right now our elected members in Congress are violating Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Who out there thinks that our members of Congress are acting with “a spirit of brotherhood?”


They are, I believe, acting very selfishly at the expense of the American people, and their actions may have a worldwide impact. The government shutdown of 2013 will be studied by economists for a long time, but it takes no amount of research to see that our members of Congress aren’t acting brotherly toward anyone.


Can you think of subtle ways that human rights are violated each day? Share your human rights thoughts on Twitter with #BAD13. And participate in Blog Action Day 2013.

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