On Human Rights Day our attention, proclamation and prayer reach out naturally to the victims of human rights violation, v.g. the child in the womb, violated children and women, the abandoned, harassed and exploited, the disadvantaged poor, the unjustly evicted from their land, etc… Unfortunately in our country with a democratic form of government, the rights of the people are not always fully respected. And the culprits: among others, public servants and elected officials.
Human rights and the duty to respect, proclaim and obey them are mutually complimentary, indissolubly linked and inextricably connected. On the one hand, the human right of an individual imposes some duty on the part of others. On the other hand, one who claims his own rights, yet altogether neglects to carry out his duties, is a person who builds with one hand and destroys with the other (cf. John XXIII, Pacem In Terris, no. 264).
In our country where millions radically lack the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, education, employment and health security, “the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights (even over material possessions they justly possess) so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine No. 158). It means going beyond mere charity, alms giving, and giving only what one no longer needs.
When leaders are hounded by unresolved anomalies and litanies of graft and corruption, it is difficult, almost impossible, to regain trust, credibility and respect which are critical ingredients to effective governance.
If civil society wants to effect moral transformation in governance, they must be reasonably angry, articulate, and persevering in effecting the change they want to see. Most important is the element of spiritual transformation, whose key is conversion to God which starts with ourselves.