I found this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt today and I think its brilliant. A large part of Lets Run The Race is to raise awareness for human rights issues that are going on in our world today so that we are fully informed of the atrocities that are taking place everywhere. However, an important part is also encouraging us to look at our own lives and think about how we can make a difference closer to home, so that 1. we can make a difference in our own communities and 2. so that we can be thinking more each day about the needs of others that are out there, so as to adjust our entire outlook on human rights as a whole.
We all have human rights and whilst often the most extreme issues do take place in developing countries where there is a limited infrastructure to support a good and just legal system and law enforcement, there are human rights needs all around us each day. We looked at a lot of these when researching the Sustainable Development Goals, such as poverty, a right to good health and well being as well as a right to a good education. Sadly poverty and need does exist in our western world midst. Amongst the nice houses and big cars are low income homes where families are struggling to make ends meet, where parents are unable to provide their children with three full meals a day or even keep the house heated. We live in the worlds coldest house due to only having three ancient storage heaters and a handful of electric radiators that gave up the ghost a long time ago. However, we have a wood burner and the means to buy logs and to keep it stoked up all day if necessary, which means the only time we are truly cold is when we have been disorganised enough not to order more wood. We have the means. Many don’t.
Last Summer a missionary from South Sudan came to talk to our church about the work she was doing there and it was a true moment of revelation for me. Not because I didn’t know about poverty and conflict but because I had never met somebody who had experienced it first hand. Her testimony was powerful and moving and it was at this point that I suddenly felt a burning need to start raising awareness for issues of human rights. However, it wasn’t just what she told me that got me thinking (and rethinking!) but the fact that when we got home from church that day we had a hot meal to eat, a comfy sofa to chill out on and chess board to while away the afternoon with a family game (yes, I know, we like chess!). We didn’t have AK-47s stashed away under the floorboards for protection; we didn’t fear for our lives for a second that day. And my plentiful life suddenly seemed too luxurious, too spoilt and so I needed to try and find a way to help.
But we all need to have a starting point because each of our circumstances are different. Some of us will have more free time than others, some of us will be more confident than others, some of us will be good one to one and others in a big group, some of us will be tied to a desk all day long and wonder how its even possible to squeeze just one more thing in. But thats the beauty of our diversity, we can all give and offer something different and there is beauty in that. In the Christmas carol In The Bleak Midwinter, the final verse says:
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.
We each of us have something to give, and certainly we all have a heart that we can give.
So maybe tomorrow pick up the phone to that friend you know is struggling, or attend that committee meeting you were hoping to avoid, or take two minutes whilst at your desk to follow the UN and a few NGOs on Instagram/Twitter so that you can have new diverse things added to your feed each day. It could even be as simple as popping a few extra items in your basket at the shops to drop off at the food bank, or when you walk past a homeless person in a shop doorway just take two minutes to go and get them a cup of tea and a sandwich.
Start at home, start with your community, start with the people around you and the giving of your heart will find you searching further afield as well. Maybe next time it will take you to Africa or India!