I just got back from the 14th Annual International Human Rights Summit at the United Nations in New York. Hosted by our friends at Youth For Human Rights International, the event brings youth delegates together from all over the world who are championing Youth for Human Rights in their schools and communities.
People’s stories were truly inspiring. They came from all walks of life, all races, languages and religious backgrounds, united by their work toward peace and understanding through educating people on their basic human rights. I got to speak about the work Rock for Human Rights has done around the world and also got to perform my song “Candle” for a fantastically supportive audience at the Church of Scientology Harlem Community Center the following day.
One of the things that struck me the most was something I heard from several delegates and visitors with whom I spoke while at the UN. In one way or another they communicated that many people in their lives thought them a bit strange or eccentric or unusual because they had dedicated so much of their time and energy (and often money) to helping other people through their nonprofit work. Comments that these delegates heard ranged from “I could never do that” or “where do you find the time?” to “one person can’t really make a difference” and “when are you going to stop messing around with that stuff and get focused on your own life?”
I met Christians, Buddhists, Bahá’ís, Sikhs and Muslims. They were all united in their belief that fundamental human rights belong to every single person on earth and that teaching others the value of these rights is one of the most important things we could be doing.
And at this international gathering of like-minded individuals, you could see a palpable sense of relief and excitement, a sense from each member of such a diverse gathering that they were thinking to themselves, “I’ve found my people!”
Many members of my church were there because they had heard about human rights through the supportive work the Church does in that field. But most people there were from other faiths or had no specific affiliation. I met Christians, Buddhists, Bahá’ís, Sikhs and Muslims. They were all united in their belief that fundamental human rights belong to every single person on earth and that teaching others the value of these rights is one of the most important things we could be doing.
As the 24 hour news cycle rages on, trying to convince us of how terrible everything is, I must confess I found this event just as invigorating as everyone else there. It’s good to be reminded of the basic goodness of people, and of how many there are in every corner of the world doing everything they can to make it a better place for all of us.