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Human Roights Essay, Research Paper

Throughout history, human rights violations have plagued society. From the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, to genocide in Rwanda, to the poor quality of education in the inner cities, diverse peoples have struggled to survive in a world often filled with fear and hatred. The problem is evident. Without a universal respect for human rights, the world cannot achieve peace. Violations of our inherent rights represent an absence of respect for the value of human life. Our peace heroes are those individuals who have expressed a sincere compassion to alleviate the sufferings of others. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Oscar Romero are such peace heroes. They led heroic missions to educate, awaken and revolutionize the people of their respective lands and to fight the injustices inflicted upon them. Furthermore like Gandhi, they fought the injustices with love, respect, and non-violent protest.

Born on January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was no stranger to racial discrimination. The democratic ideas promised to the American citizen were shadowed and debased by racial inequalities. In the late 1950s, segregation in schools, lunch counters and other public facilities was prevalent. Furthermore, African Americans did not have the right to vote and were denied many economic opportunities enjoyed by others. Raised in a society engulfed by such oppression and humiliation, King believed that he had a social and moral responsibility to educate the nation about the evils of racism.

King’s peace mission paralleled the lessons taught by other peace heroes such as Mahatma Gandhi. His technique was known as a non-violent resistance, using love, prayer, and speech as direct action against physical violence. King taught love instead of hate, kindness instead of aggression. This exercise of nonviolent resistance displayed the protester’s courageous will to bring peace and dignity to the nation.

Throughout his life, King played a vital role in achieving significant gains for humanity. From the desegregation of schools and other public facilities, to the acceleration of civil rights as a government priority, his peace mission was a success. In 1964, at the young age of 35, King was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his accomplishments. King’s legacy offers a hope that someday racism might be replaced with love and respect for human rights.

Individuals often become heroes because of the extraordinary courage they demonstrate. An unyielding determination to do what is right, true, and just became a guiding principle for Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. He demanded peace, a peace that could only be found in human rights and assurances of basic dignities. He informed the world about all the people who had been tortured, slaughtered, and of those who had “disappeared” in his country, El Salvador. He told the truth, but like many great leaders who have fought for truth, Romero was assassinated. A single bullet transformed him into a martyr. His life was taken, but his voice could not be silenced.

Romero became a beacon of hope in a country ravaged by poverty, injustice, and sorrow. As with many Central American countries, El Salvador was a national security state, a country where the military is accountable to no one and the people are defenseless against tyranny and oppression. There was no peace. In the face of this injustice, Romero took it upon himself to use the Church as a light of hope and to challenge the oppressors.

Romero was appointed Archbishop of El Salvador in 1977. In the late 1970s the Church in Central America was being contested by two contrasting ideologies: those priests who wanted to maintain a stabilizing presence of non-confrontation in politics and those who believed it was their duty to speak out against the state’s cruelty. Romero was chosen to be Archbishop because he was thought to be a moderate with whom all could agree.

Father Grande’s assassination resulted in Romero’s determination to redefine the nature of the Church as the defender of the poor and to denounce from the pulpit the evils of state-supported death squads. As a gesture of solidarity with the preaching s of Father Grande, Romero refused to appear in any public ceremonies with Army or Government personnel until the true nature of his friend’s murder was brought out and true social change began. Never before had such a high-ranking church leader made such a bold movement.

Archbishop Romero soon became the voice and conscience of El Salvador. His words and actions crossed state borders and were heard internationally. His fight for human rights led to his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. He spoke words of peace, but they were a threat to the tyrannical policies of the government. When the world becomes a witness, it is harder to terrorize, torture and murder.

On March 24, 1980 at 6:25 p.m. Romero was performing mass. As he prepared the Eucharist, a shot from the back of the church struck him in the chest, killing him instantly. Romero died, but his words, deeds, and actions remained very much alive. Today El Salvador remains a country of misery and injustice. Yet Romero’s spirit lives on and his teachings remain. The people of the world must remember him and continue to strive for the realization of his dream: truth, justice, dignity, and human rights.

Both Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero spent most of their lives trying to rectify this situation through peaceful, non-violent means, but there are differences. The first and most obvious is the fact that King worked in the US during the 60 s and Romero in El Salvador during the 70 s. This it s self isn t too important, but what it leads to is. King on, one hand, used the media and public support in a democratic nation to drone up support for his cause. Romero used the only thing available to him, which was the church. Second, the political structure was a lot sounder in the US than in El Salvador, and still is today. But in the end all the efforts of these to men would whine up costing both of them their lives. Lastly, the work of King has had some profound effects on the US and it s people. Romero, however, seems to have had little effect on the government or the people since poverty and injustice still reign supreme there. Maybe one day in the future there will be change, but foe now all the people there can do is hope.

Throughout history, human rights violations have plagued our earth. Maybe someday we can all set aside our differences and get along, but until that day, it s people like Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero that will pick up the slack and work tirelessly for change. Slowly but surely we will get there thanks to men, great men, like these two modern day heroes. These men are two of the greatest humanitarians in history and deserve our eternal respect.


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