Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Evolution of Justice and Human Rights

The essential element of this unit revolves around understanding the manner in which our very concept of justice has evolved from the beginning of time. From Hammurabi on, people have been redefining justice and reclassifying those subject to that justice. It is a constant and perpetual process.

In understanding that process, the author of today's reading points out that every jump forward in the field of human rights was met with a significant backlash in which those rights were attacked and scaled back. After the French Revolution came the dictatorships of the 1800s, for example. In this sense, the evolution of justice and human rights needs to be understood as incremental, that is, it progresses forward in small chunks which are then subjected to backlash. The sum of these jumps forward inevitable equal progress, but overall, the time immediately after a major refashioning of human rights is typically pretty tumultuous.

As we progress through the events, there are a couple things to keep in mind. First of all, what we're doing in this unit is what's called a "bottom up" version of history. Most history is written from the top-down, that is, a person of a higher class writes about the military victories, governmental decisions, and powerful people that make a country/state/nation "great." Very rarely do the average people get included-there are few average-to-poor people who have the time to write history (as I said in class, they were busy trying to, you know, make enough money to eat and stuff). The history of justice and human rights offers a look at history in the opposite direction. We'll get the opportunity to see average people step up and demand inclusion into the justice system, and in doing so, make them both part of an influential to the new system.

Overall, the history of justice and human rights offers us a unique perspective on history. We get to now see the evolution of a concept which is not only controversial today, but also at the core of what our country stands for. Hopefully, this unit will allow you to reconsider your own beliefs about justice, and fight against those things you feel are unjust in today's society.


aabrams said...

I have been incorporated with World History I and Mr. Moran for a semester now, and I believe this unit which offers a very unique perspective on history and the history of human rights and justice is the most interesting unit viewed all year. Throughout the United States and the entire world, justice and the rights of citizens are very meaningful subjects. There have been many laws and documents created to secure the rights held by individuals that are part of the human species no matter what sex, race, nationality, and economic background such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights created in 1948. Justice has also caused many debates and disagreements between countries such as the situation in Guantanamo Bay and the six controversies discussed in class. I am excited to evaluate a concept which is not only controversial today, but a subject which our country is run on. The society that we live in today presents many unjust acts which will hopefully be changed very soon.

Coleslaw said...

I believe that no matter what topic you decided to talk about you will have a controversy side to it, however this one for me is a little bit harder for me to wrap my mind around. I only say that because when thought about, it is right to say everyone deserves human rights, but is there a limit, a place where these rights can be taken too far. Could one use these rights to his her advantage for evil or good, but mostly evil. When people talk about it they are always commenting on the good parts of the subject, but when thought about more closely one is exposed to the dangers of human rights being given to the evil people in this world. However i would like everyone to understand that I believe human rights is indeed a very good thing, i was just commenting on the other side. We didn't necessarily get to this in class, and Its okay even thought i really did want to comment on it, i will speak my opinion now. See for the fourth controversy, I truly believe that is the best way for a Universal understanding of rights should be handled or the most significant controversy. I think this because people should not all be alike, exactly what makes this world go round is because we are all different. If all of us where to have these universal laws for human rights it seems like it can be good and bad. I say that because one it could help on international standards but then again it could turn out like another constitution. The constitution within itself was good, however it has caused more controversy because of the way people interpret it and everything, and I think that it would be a complete trouble or disaster. But if people were to make their own culture laws that could if wanted be influenced by their history (History sort of does make up or influence many peoples lives) many more people would be happier. Also people cant go ballistic on them and disobey them because they are checked up against Universal understanding of human rights. Therefore, that could prevent another Hitler, which will never happen because no one is that cruel to be living. I am just saying it is the safest and gives people the most difference between each other if you understand what i am getting out. ( I am sorry for using Hitlers name, it will not be repeated in this blog again.)

ztdog818 said...

i think the idea that human rights is wrritten from the bottom up is a very interesting concept. human rights really only effects the oppresed, and never the opressors. it is very common to hear about the struggles of a black in the U.S. during the civil rights era. it is not as common, however, to hear a white person complaining about civil rights problems in the U.S. though. Also, i believe it is important to realize what i previously stated, that human rights is written from the bottom up, because we can learn from their problems. we can find out what their respective nations could have done to rid this problem. but if it was written from a top down persepective, we would not truly unerstand the problems the oppresed really faced. That being said, i not only agree with the "bottom up" idea, but i think it is the most impornat perspective when we deal with this topic in class.
-willie trieger

Shizue said...

In response to Willie's intrege of the "bottom up" history.

I think the desire to hear the other side of historical societies has created an entire genre of writing in modern society. Many "controversial" journalists of today travel to hear the flip side of many current events. As a child it is assumed that truth is reported in the news. It is frightning to have this sense of security shattered as we get older. The stories surrounding (US) news events are extremely controlled to be "patriotic". Many stories are manipulated to put America in the position of being viewed as a hero when, in many instances, the opposing side publisized a completely different position.

I am extremely interested in tracing this theme of "history being written by those in power" this semester. This is a theme that i have been aware of but never fully grasped. I hope that we will be able to fully analyze this thread throughout history.

Willie Trieger said...

interesting point shizue. but i beileve, in most cases, human rights NEEDS to be written from the bottom up, and, it stinks to say, that most history needs to be written top down. but i think top down has recieved a "bad rap". just because the stronger group wrote it does NOT mean the lesser group is forgetten. there story is just ignored. but sometimes it is necesarry to have top down and bottom up for the same case so we can actually decided what we agree with and who is right.

willie trieger

willie Trieger said...

The previous one is wrong, read this:

interesting point shizue. but i beileve, in most cases, human rights NEEDS to be written from the bottom up, and, it stinks to say, that most history needs to be written top down. but i think top down has recieved a "bad rap". just because the stronger group wrote it does NOT mean the lesser group is forgetten. there story is not just ignored. but sometimes it is necesarry to have top down and bottom up for the same case so we can actually decided what we agree with and who is right.

willie trieger

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