InKlined viewpoint: Defending Human Rights, My Life Purpose
For as long as I have been on this earth, my mission is and always has been to support and promote human being's rights. My goal is to protect & love all living things and be present to help the cause.
Would you call yourself a defender or an activist or both?
I work at an organization that clearly supports and defends human rights. This is one of the many reasons I have been loyal to one of the busiest Children's hospitals here in the middle of Los Angeles, California. My hospital has come together to create solidarity. It consistently celebrates diversity. There is an obvious willingness of my coworkers to continue to actively transform our culture to be more inclusive and justice-oriented.
We have a Gender Equity Task Force, which then led them to developing the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). We also have a Center for Adolescent Medicine that provides health care and mental health for transgender and gender non-conforming youth. I've seen these departments do soooo much since I've been there, but especially over the past 15 months. I believe this group truly values and supports diversity among my colleagues. It's obvious how much they support of the patients and their families that we serve.
This past year we experienced anti-Asian American hate crimes, Anti-semitism, Hate crimes against LGBTQ+, growing racial inequities and tension, and more murders of young Black lives. I know I'm leaving out a lot of groups of people that have been marginalized, these are only a few I've mentioned.
Are you curious of the human rights history since the 1600's? This might feel like history class so if it's too boring just look at the pictures LOL! I won't be offended. Maybe you'll learn something interesting. Click on the pictures for links for more details.
English philosopher John Locke sets forth the notion of natural rights of "life, liberty and property. The Bill of Rights is adopted in England.
The US Declaration of Independence is adopted by Congress. It presents the rationale for American independence from Britain on the basis that "all men are created equal" and endowed with rights that cannot be taken from them, including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
The first section of the Geneva Conventions, protecting the rights of sick and wounded soldiers, is adopted by Europe. This agreement would eventually be expanded to include the rights of prisoners and of all war victims.
The Turkish genocide of Armenians begins. Around 800,000 to 1.2 million Armenians are killed. The governments of Russia, France, and the United Kingdom declare the massacres a "crime against humanity."
Led by Gandhi, the Salt March to Dandi begins in March. The Salt March draws widespread attention to the independence movement in India and to nonviolence as a powerful political tool.
Spring to Summer 1945
World War II ends. The Nazi concentration camps are liberated. 110,000 pairs of shoes were left behind from the camp victims.
The National Farm Workers is organized by Cesar Chavez to protect migrant American farm workers, most of whom were Hispanic.
The Stonewall Riots began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in NYC. This led to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar in neighboring streets and in nearby a nearby park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
United States signs the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
Principles of Medical Ethics (UN) is adopted
The Americans With Disabilities Act is signed into law, establishing "a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability."
50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights marks a cornerstone event in humanity’s struggle to recognize, promote, and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Lastly on my timeline I want to highlight the most current action done by our US Government this year:
January 25, 2021
President Joe Biden signed an executive order repealing the 2019 Trump-era ban on most transgender Americans joining the military. He is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform.
June 1, 2021
President Biden proclaimed June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month. He has called upon the people of the US to recognize the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community, to celebrate our great diversity, and to wave our flags of pride high.
How can you Intentionally being a Human Rights Defender/Activist?
#1: Commit to small actions
The easiest things you can do on your journey to becoming a human rights activist are very small. Donate money to causes you care about, write letters, and sign petitions. These may seem insignificant, but they’re a great starting point and can make a difference for the people affected.
#2: Get educated on issues
You won’t know what’s going on in the world of human rights unless you do some research. Knowledge is power, and you’ll find what really sparks your passion when you start seeing injustices. Digging deeper will also show you what other activists are doing to solve problems and how your skills could be relevant.
#3: Join a local group
Big organizations like Amnesty International usually have local chapters all over the place that you can join as a volunteer. Pretty much all career activists will volunteer before they are paid; it proves you’re really in it for the cause and are willing to sacrifice your free time.
#4: Get involved in the political process
The state of human rights is largely determined by who is in power. If you are a citizen of a country that votes for its government, you need to vote. That’s the least you could do. Activists will most likely not be satisfied with just heading to the polls, so get involved in other ways, like by volunteering for candidates you’re passionate about.
#5: Students, look for classes and degrees in relevant fields
If you’re in school and interested in pursuing some kind of career in human rights, search out classes that will build up your knowledge. Schools will also have degrees with human rights specializations that you can study for. Lots of jobs in the human rights field will require these types of degrees, so if you’re serious about a possible career, see what your school has to offer.
#6: Get experience
Besides a relevant degree, experience is also crucial for budding human rights activists. You can get in the field through volunteering and internships; they’re just as important as taking the right classes or reading the right books in terms of fully understanding an issue. These experiences will also connect you to organizations and people that can lead you to a permanent career.
#7: Be flexible and willing to go where you’re needed
A human rights activist goes where the issues are. This might mean you take some trips to places you never thought you’d see and possibly stay there for a while. When you’re thinking about your future plans, acknowledge that you’ll need to be flexible about where you look for jobs, volunteer opportunities, and schooling.
#8: Come up with a personal mission statement
What’s a “personal mission statement?” This is a statement that encompasses your goals, purpose, and the value you bring to the human rights arena. It’s the kind of thing that would go on top of a resume, so the human rights organizations you want to work for get a clear idea of who you are as a person and what you’ll add to a team. Writing this statement (which can be up to three sentences) is an extremely valuable exercise in self-reflection and forces you to dig really deeply into why you have a passion for human rights.
#9: Stand up to oppression and discrimination when you see it
This will most likely come naturally to the type of person who wants to be a human rights activist. When they see injustices in real time, in their own life, they stand up. However, it can sometimes be scary and speaking up might cost you relationships with friends and family. Think about how you stand up based on the situation and what your end goal is – is to change minds? Or is to show victims of oppression that they aren’t alone?
#10: Maintain a support network
Every activist needs a support network because standing up for human rights can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Burnout is very common. Know your limitations and surround yourself with people who can help you work through hard feelings. You should also memorize phone numbers in case you are ever arrested at an event or lose your phone. If you believe you’re going into a potentially-dangerous situation, try not to go alone. Fighting for human rights can feel daunting, so prepare for opposition, stay organized, and stay sharp.
I truly believe the world's civil unrest gives us all an opportunity to review our individual and collective assumptions AND our actions. Ultimately we then could lead from a place of social justice, anti-racism and deep value and regard for the lives, safety and dignity of all. Being in the HUGE City of Angels I've been amazed at the way that the community comes together. I choose to focus on the positive. Although I have chosen this mindset, it doesn't mean I'm not aware of the work that still needs to be done. After all negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress. This depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness. I like to be happy as much as humanly possible. It can also decrease our lifespan and I want to live with all of you as long as I can.
Stay beautiful, unique and inspired
--Erika Lee Kline lives in beautiful Pasadena, California. She is fitness minded & enjoys hiking, biking, paddleboarding and wall climbing. She is a fully embodied Empath, a human rights advocate, ballroom/Latin dancer, a student of human behavior and an MI Practicioner. She is a Pediatric Diabetes Nurse working in Los Angeles at a Children's Hospital. You can find her on Clubhouse, TikTok & Instagram.