Winter holidays are often met with reflections of the year that is soon to pass. The year 2020 was met with unprecedented challenges for current generations.

Our world as we know it has changed dramatically. The global pandemic emphasized weaknesses in our health systems, aid distribution and education systems. Almost everyone’s normal life was stripped down to the walls of their apartment or house – if they are lucky enough to have either. While the year 2020 has been the most isolating year, I would say it has also created a new global cohesion. Through our forced isolation, one of the most impactful lessons has been the necessity of community connection, love and support. Furthermore, the definition of ‘community’ has expanded past the borders of our neighborhoods and city limits as Facetime and Zoom hangouts have become the norm. 

This semester at Rumi Forum, our focus has been International Human Rights leading to our main event December 11th, Say YES (Youth Empowered Solutions) to Human Rights. In the previous blog we expanded on the ‘R’ and ‘I’ in our #RISE4Rights acronym. In this blog we will reflect on the meaning of ‘S’ and ‘E’ as well as what we have learned throughout our work this semester.

We started by Revisiting, Reimagining and Reorganizing our beliefs surrounding human rights by asking ourselves questions, such as: What qualifies as a human right? First we Identified, then we explored how we can Interact with others to promote human rights and how young people can make a big Impact. Now, we want to explore what it means to Stand by those whose rights are being threatened and how to Sustain that Support. Finally, we will discuss how to Engage, Educate and Empower those around us, because as we have learned from the year 2020, lasting impacts may start with you as an individual, but it is carried forth by our communities.  

Rumi is quoted to have said, “We may know who we are or we may not. We may be Muslims, Jews or Christians but until our hearts become the mould for every heart we will see only our differences.” 

As we R.I.S.E. for Human Rights, we must appreciate the humanity of each other that is at the foundation of our identities. It is easy to become caught up in external labels that devise and categorize us into in-groups and out-groups. These social divides are real and we cannot feign blindness to them; however, the Human Rights movement is a movement that is for every single being on earth. Just like COVID-19 did not discriminate based on gender, race, religion or political party as it wrought havoc across the globe, our efforts must transcend social divisions as we move forward as one global community. 

You can sign up for our event here

You can see our list of panelists and speakers here.

To read our previous blogs click here

Author: Elena Freeman