Human Rights

As we progress further and further into time, it seems that the question or topic of ‘human rights’ continue to gain more and more momentum. Defined as a right that is believed to belong justifiably to every person, the fact that this topic continues to grow in significance around the globe certainly demonstrates how far we have come in terms of the progress of the human species.

But then again, it is not enough. Even though the UN holds certain undeniable rights to be true for all people, when it comes down to it, they have neither the means nor the power to enforce it. Ultimately, it all comes down to individual countries to enforce them, and unsurprisingly, these rights vary vastly from country to country. Everyone agrees that slavery is wrong, but at the same time, it is an issue that still plagues the world, in fact, maybe in a magnitude greater than ever before. In a world where the distinction between social classes are ever changing, the ones trapped in the lower half of the conundrum are the ones that are always forced to wrestle with this issue. Everyone has the right to a fair trial, or the right to be deemed innocent until proven guilty. Basics of a country governed by law right? But why then is it that millions suffer with this exact same issue across the world? Maybe it comes down to the definition, maybe it’s because the concepts of rights are not enforced universally, maybe it’s because governments have the liberty to change these ‘unalienable’ rights on a whim. Whatever it is, human rights, until properly and thoroughly enforced, holds little merit to those it matters the most.

But then again, where do human rights come from? Certainly, all worldviews have a set of instructions that grant people basic rights, but how far can those actually be taken? Certain religions have more depth to the rights that are considered endowed by God, but ultimately, divine rights or not, doesn’t it all come down to us to enforce it? I believe that human rights come from God, but debating about that all day will get us nowhere. Ultimately, it’s the government that has the task to see that everyone obliges to the laws that they have set up to protect these rights that we speak of. In that sense, why should these rights be considered ‘temporary contracts’? Change a law too many times and people will stop following and paying heed to it. Indeed, the concept of ‘human rights’ apply to everyone.¬†Not just an individual country but to the human race in general. Why then, should governments be free to pick and choose the rights that people enjoy within their borders? Either everyone enjoys equal rights regardless of country or social standing, or the whole concept comes shattering down.

I do not ask for a perfect world. Nor do I ask for one without any grief or suffering. The way I see it, that is an unattainable goal. But a world where a human is treated as a human and not property, is that too much to ask for? If so, what is this mirage of progress we chase every day?

-Raving Ranter

 

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Poetry Analysis

The passing Spring,

Birds Mourn,

Fish weep

with tearful eyes

-Nobuyuki Youasa

The beauty of this poem is that it has so much to offer within the boundaries of it’s four lines. Each line presents us with unique imagery. Each description not only forces our minds to picture all of it, but it also conveys the emotions of the poet to us. The first line sets up the overarching concept, but personally, when I read the word ‘passing’, a unique image comes to mind. The image is of cherry blossoms blooming and falling to the ground, and people passing by it hastily as the season itself does.

Spring is a very beautiful season, but perhaps the most wonderful time is when it is on the verge of ending. The ending of spring marks the end of rejoicing in nature, but it also presents us with a strange and serene beauty that is exceptionally fantastic. As the poet attributes negative or sorrowful emotions to nature by saying “birds mourn” and “fish weep”, not only do we experience a surge of expressions as the raw emotions of the poet leaps up from beyond these lines to engulf us, but it also creates for a unique atmosphere. The first line, in contrast to the other three, when put together beautifully recreates a scenario of the fading spring, a time of sorrow or mourning in nature, and yet, also a time of unnatural, exquisite beauty brought about for it.

 

In this mountain village

where I’ve given up

all hope of visitors,

how drab would life be

without my loneliness.

-Saigyo

 

This poem is marked with despair, or so it would seem at first glance. When I first read this poem, I almost discounted it as being gloomy and dark. But somewhere, inside, I felt that there was much more to it than that. Now maybe that’s my innate optimism trying to alleviate the gloomy stress by adding some light to the darkness of this poem, or maybe it’s the sense of a romanticist within me that seeks to find something beautiful in life through all circumstances that’s been bestowed upon me. Who knows? But one thing I do know is that I utterly refuse to analyze this poem as being dark and gloomy. Sure, the setting is gloomy, and the part about giving up all hope is anything but cheerful, and having no visitors, that’s just, downright depressing. Huh? this all seems to go against the point I am trying to make. I think I need a break to start over.

Now then, back to the point, “how drab would life be without my loneliness”, a very, very melancholy statement indeed when we think about it, but the real question is, does it have to be that way? The imagery of a lonely mountain dweller is obvious and extremely pitiful to think about as readers. But I find this line in particular very interesting. And even more so, the choice of words. Somehow, using the word “drab”, changes the meaning for me. From an introverted perspective, there is always joy to be found in loneliness, and this just points me to an extreme version of it. From the description, it seems like he is cherishing the loneliness, almost bathing in it’s company. We know he has lost all hope of visitors, but he has not yet transitioned into despair. In that sense, this poem could either be a cry for help, or a record of a much needed respite.

Or maybe I am just reading into it too much. I probably am aren’t I? In that case, sorry for having you read all this. But now that you are here, stick around till the end will you?

One thing, I cannot help but notice in both these poems is the common theme or mention of nature. The poets write about a passing season and a lonely mountain traveler respectively, but the imagery that is brought to us from both of these is the abundance of nature in both cases. To me it’s interesting how most of the poems I have read other than these two for this assignment also almost always focus on similar or point to certain aspects of nature. From how I see it,¬†Japanese culture forms a perfect harmony between nature, art and traditions. It goes to prove just how much of the Japanese culture is embedded into nature and how nature and art along with centuries of traditions all intertwine to create the culture of this country as we know it today.

-Raving Ranter.

 

Sentient Senior

Well then, this is officially the third day of senior year and I already feel the need to create journal entries that will mark the days and conditions of my survival. (Granted, I doubt I would have done this if this was not required and not graded). And perhaps one day, the legends of how this senior survived and the costs of having doing so will be passed to underclassmen who believe and hold on to the lie that their last year in high school will be without complications. I wish I could say it was, but at my current state, that response seems almost illogical and will only be a fabrication of the mind, a mere fancy, and a projection of desires deep within.

Senior year, or High School life in general, is anything but ‘rose coloured’ or as some say ‘roses and butterflies’, in fact, that myth should have been dispelled the moment one entered through the gates as a freshmen and was forced to walk on the blood-paved corridor marked with suffering and depression, and was forced to face off against the tyranny of oppressors and fellow detainees. But in retrospect, maybe it was just me……..who knows?

But enough venting. I believe I have been asked to write about my feelings of becoming a senior and certain goals that I posses on that prospect. In all honesty, knowing that I am now a senior has not impacted me a lot yet. I know that this will be my last year to enjoy things as a high schooler but I have yet to experience the sorrow of ‘one last time’ and a ‘final farewell’. Or once again, maybe the gravity of the situation has not completely hit me yet, in which case, I earnestly pray that I don’t start crying during events………trust me…….it isn’t pretty.

And as far as goals go, I don’t have any concrete ones, nor do I have vague ones either. I just know that I have to get through this year, through capstone, college applications and APs and end up in a University somewhere in the Western world. But I believe those are goals that everyone has to keep in mind this year, and therefore, I am disinclined to count them as my own. Maybe I will figure something out after the chaos and confusion of the first week of school ends. Maybe? Probably? No promises, senioritis seems like a very real threat now.

-Raving Ranter