human rights essay

Topics: Human rights, United States, Martin Luther King, Jr. Pages: 2 (709 words) Published: September 23, 2013

From the time of king Hammurabi in 1800BC societies have tried to define human rights. From this time the first official code (set of laws) was made. Throughout history individuals such as Cyrus, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Jesus Christ and Muhammad have influenced the collective thinking of societies in order to influence their views on the rights of individuals. On the 10th December in 1948 the United Nations brought together the collective thinking of these great leaders, wrote them down and asked all nations to sign up to the declaration, to put individual rights in a nationalistic view. Seven years after the United States signed up to this declaration White Americans were enjoying their greater rights while Black Americans were still noticing no change in their lives. This is when Martin Luther King Jr steps into his place in history so he would give this ignored population of America their rights.

Human rights were born from individuals understanding natural rights. These are the rights that Buddha, Confucius, Jesus etc. taught us and we feel within ourselves. An example of natural rights is to treat others as we would want them to treat us. After conquering Babylon in 539BC Cyrus the Great did an unimaginable thing. He freed the slaves and told people they could choose whom they like to worship. This was one of the first times in known history that rights were documented (on the Cyrus cylinder). From this beginning other great leaders at various times throughout history have added to and built on these rights.

Hammurabi’s code pre dates the Cyrus cylinder buy approximately 1250 years, but this is aimed more towards individual rights and laws than Cyrus` freedom of expression, where I believe human rights were truly born. An example of Hammurabi’s code is “If someone cuts down a tree on someone else land, he must pay for it.” Whereas in the Cyrus’ cylinder he included things like “People had the freedom to choose their religion”, which are rights...
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