Where Do Human Rights Begin?

Eleanor Roosevelt, the driving force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Eldon Ray Diaz-Henderson

Lexington (Joseph Harp Correctional Center)

Nominated by Fr. Paul Zahler, O.S.B., Ph.D. 

In 1958, Eleanor Roosevelt addressed the United Nations. Speaking on the topic of human rights, she said:

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps 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 concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” 
(Eleanor Roosevelt, “The Great Question,” remarks delivered at the United Nations in New York on March 27, 1958)

Fifty-seven years later, Mrs. Roosevelt’s words continue to have meaning. She reminds us that human rights exist everywhere, for everyone. They don’t cease to matter simply because we live in an out-of-the-way place. Our human dignity — and our potential to uphold the personal rights and dignity of others — continues to have significance no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

Eldon Ray Diaz-Henderson resides at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center. He is a prisoner of the State of Oklahoma.

Eldon participates in a program for inmates with learning disabilities. It is called the Total Family Development Daily Living Program. The program was launched with indispensable assistance from the Oklahoma Benedictine Institute on the campus of St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee.

As a result of participating in the Total Family Development Program, Eldon has seen changes in himself. He lists them: Needing to Work on My Self Image; Learning to Socialize; Openness; Honesty; Trust; Handling Painful Relationships; and Discovering Worthiness.

Eldon is being recognized with the 2015 Oklahoma Human Rights Award because he reminds us that human rights exist everywhere, for everyone. He reminds us that, because we have reason and conscience, we should act towards one another in a spirit of respectful solidarity.

On December 10th, the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance will honor human rights heroes from around our great state. A recognition program will take place at the State Capitol. Among those to be recognized will be Eldon Ray Diaz-Henderson and Kendall Wayne Vowell. More information about the program can be found here: “Celebrate Human Rights.”

For more about Kendall Wayne Vowell, see the article HERE.

“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.”
–Article 1 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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