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A celebration of human rights worldwide

Event will mark 65th anniversary of UN declaration

  • Albany, N.Y., lawyer Robert Perry, who will speak at the event commemorating the 65th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights this Sunday at Greenfield's Second Congregational Church. Submitted photo.

    Albany, N.Y., lawyer Robert Perry, who will speak at the event commemorating the 65th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights this Sunday at Greenfield's Second Congregational Church. Submitted photo.

  • Pat and Tex LaMountain, pictured, will perform music at Greenfield's Second Congregational church on Sunday as part of the celebration commemorating the 65th anniversary of the UN's declaration of human rights. The idea for the commemoration grew out of conversations between Tex LaMountain and Albany, N.Y., lawyer Robert Perry. Submitted photo.

    Pat and Tex LaMountain, pictured, will perform music at Greenfield's Second Congregational church on Sunday as part of the celebration commemorating the 65th anniversary of the UN's declaration of human rights. The idea for the commemoration grew out of conversations between Tex LaMountain and Albany, N.Y., lawyer Robert Perry. Submitted photo.

  • Albany, N.Y., lawyer Robert Perry, who will speak at the event commemorating the 65th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights this Sunday at Greenfield's Second Congregational Church. Submitted photo.
  • Pat and Tex LaMountain, pictured, will perform music at Greenfield's Second Congregational church on Sunday as part of the celebration commemorating the 65th anniversary of the UN's declaration of human rights. The idea for the commemoration grew out of conversations between Tex LaMountain and Albany, N.Y., lawyer Robert Perry. Submitted photo.

GREENFIELD — When the newly created United Nations adopted its “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” 65 years ago, calling for its member nations to “strive by teaching and education to promote respect” for the “inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all members of the human family,” it did not create a legal document that could be used for trial lawyers like civil rights attorney Robert Perry to use as a basis for cases in court.

Indeed, no government has adopted the international declaration in its entirety as its own de facto constitution.

Instead, it’s a “great aspirational document, which envisions a collective responsibility on all of us and the states that represent us, in ensuring the fundamental fairness and equality of opportunity for everyone,” says Perry, who will be among the speakers at a 65th anniversary commemoration of the declaration Sunday at 2 p.m. in Greenfield’s Second Congregational Church.

The celebration and commemoration, sponsored by the church and Natural Path Meditation Center in Sunderland, grew out of conversations between meditation group members Tex LaMountain of Greenfield and the Albany, N.Y. lawyer, since the meditation group’s Shri Ram Chandra Mission has adopted what Perry and others call the “Magna Carta for all humanity” in the spiritual realm as part of its meditation work.

The commemoration, which is open to the public, will include what its organizers call “compelling dialogue and reflection” by Second Congregational’s Rev. Armand Proulx and Perry, with music by Pat and Tex LaMountain, Russ Thomas and Jeanne Douillard.

“I don’t think there’s a more eloquent statement of the capacity for grace in the way we govern human relations than is set out in that declaration,” says Perry.

Adopted three years after the UN’s 1945 founding, the declaration “arose out of a moment in political history when the people of the world had to recognize our collective capacity for nearly annihilating ourselves, as dark a moment as perhaps we’d witnessed to that point,” says Perry, who points to its role in providing the “deep collective narrative” that’s in turn led to statutory enactments and court rulings to legally guarantee human rights, and has found their way into legal discourse and arguments.

Approved by UN members on Dec. 10, 1948, the declaration “sets out a broad and sweeping affirmative duty upon (member) states to take positive measures to ensure equality of opportunity in the broadest sense,” says Perry.

This declaration commits the members of the United Nations to uphold the dignity and worth of all persons, the equal rights of men and women and justice and respect for international law, say organizers of the event in their written announcement for the commemoration.

“To realize this aspiration will require a collective movement of hearts in the service of enlightened action. Great advances on behalf of social justice begin not with a court ruling or a political victory or the signing of a law or a treaty but, rather, with the opening of hearts.”

On the Web: www.un.org/en/documents/udhr

You can reach Richie Davis at rdavis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, Ext. 269

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