The Challenge of Human Rights 1

by cmiphilos1 on September 30, 2022

[T]he need to advance the cause of human rights is more important than meeting together and securing widespread publicity. The supreme need is for vigorous moral leadership. Given such leadership, grounded not in interest but in principle and vision, there will emerge a real atmosphere of expectancy and positive cooperation that will carry along the hesitant, and shame the primitive and formless into action and commitment. Where the call is absolutely clear, nations will not dare stay behind. 

The need in this field is above everything else for courageous and sustained moral leadership, for one nation to put its own house in order and so be fired by a genuine sense of mission as to have its words on fundamental human rights ring with authority. I am afraid I must observe that authoritative moral leadership in the sphere of human rights is lacking today. This is one of the deepest issues facing our undertaking. 

The crisis therefore is in national and not in individual leadership. There is no sign of national moral vocation to lead in this field. There is everything in the background and fundamental outlook of certain nations to entitle them to take a bold lead concerning the ultimate emancipation of man; and yet such a lead is not forthcoming.  

The ordinary processes of the emergence of responsible leadership in the democratic world do not seem to be tossing up at present leaders of the requisite moral stature. By the time a man reaches the top he has usually expended his soul in compromise and appeasement. The result of all this is divided and enfeebled counsel. 

We need endless rational debate and discussion; we need the bracing touch of moral leadership; but without the real political will to discover, promulgate and enforce these rights, debate and leadership will avail nothing. The will is the agency of realization, and you may know all the truth and you may know it even with passion, but unless you also will it, it is unlikely to pass into actuality. I confess that there is in fact an inadequate international will to achieve human rights. (87-95)

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