Leading the list is the so-called Torture Report, about CIA human rights abuses during interrogations. I’m sorry, but I can’t muster up much shock about this supposed “news.”
Anyone who has been following Latin American news for the past thirty years or so knows that the CIA has not only been routinely torturing its prisoners, but also teaching its particularly vicious brand of torture techniques to the repressive dictatorships the U.S. has found it to be in our “strategic interests” to support.
Doesn’t anyone remember the infamous School of the Americas? That was the testing ground for the interrogation manual used at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other detention sites, some so secret we don’t even know where they were located.
To me, the fact that detainees have been savagely tortured by American CIA and special forces is old news. What’s new is that there is at least a little bit of official shame over it.
In the past week we’ve had “revelations” about fraternity gang rape, rape in the U.S. military, and fatal police brutality against people of color, specifically Black men.
Again, this is nothing new. What’s new is the sense of outrage.
Not since the Occupy Wall Street movement have ordinary Americans taken to the streets the way they have this week to protest the failure of our criminal justice system, exposed in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
The response to the violations of women’s human rights has been less vigorous. I’d like to see the same kind of multiracial, cross-gender coalitions building to counter the systematic abuse of women’s bodies through forced sex—whether on college campuses, in the military, through sex trafficking and sex slavery, or rape as a weapon of war.
Again, this is an old story. Women have been raped since the beginning of time. We’ve discarded old, worn-out cultural narratives before and we can do it again.
On this Human Rights Day, I declare that the Age of Impunity is over.
The flip side of the surveillance state we all live under is that we the people are watching those in power too.
Not only are we watching, but we have the power to share information and mobilize ourselves for resistance as never before.
Flash mobs anyone? Whose streets/our streets?!
The new story I’m waiting for, which still seems like a distant mirage on the horizon, is the one that argues not just for human rights, but for the rights of all life on Earth.
Humans have been so arrogant in our conception of “rights.”
We do not have the right to destroy the forests, prairies and savannahs of our planet. We do not have the right to kill the coral reefs and drive marine life to extinction.
We do not have the right to poison our rivers, lakes and aquifers with toxic chemicals, or to wreck the balance of our earthly climate with our unrestrained burning of fossil fuels and destruction of carbon-sinking greenery and soil.
To me there is a clear continuum between the torture of captives, the killing of unarmed citizens, the rape of girls, and the razing of forests and on-going extinction of millions of species.
The question I would like to pose on Human Rights Day is this: when are we humans going to step into our role as the ethical stewards of life that we have evolved to become?
Many wise people today say that it must be women who lead the way into this new ethical age. It must be women who write the new story.
I believe that every human being can access masculine and feminine strengths and characteristics, no matter the biology of the body we’ve been born into.
I believe that both women and men need to fight our patriarchal culture’s glorification of the masculine by tapping into our nurturing, life-giving feminine side.
Women and men, the Earth needs you now. We’re not just talking about Human Rights anymore, we’re talking about Species Rights, about Plant Rights, about the right of the living biosphere of our planet to flourish and continue its million-year progression into a thriving future.
We need to move from Human Rights Day to Earth Rights Day, and we don’t need to wait for the United Nations to get its act together to do it.
Let’s make every day Earth Rights Day, starting with—tomorrow.