This blog is from Dr Donald Macaskill, CEO of Scottish Care

Please note, this is a guest blog and views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of BIHR.

It matters not because it sits on a dusty parliamentary shelf or on the benches of a court room but because these human rights are rooted in personal memory and moment, in personal hope and vision.

It matters because of a walk through gates which declared Arbeit Macht Frei in a place where the air was consumed by the decay of hate … for these human rights offer a different way of being with those other than my self.

It matters because of an afternoon spent in tear and sadness in the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem counting the thousands of children’s shoes emptied of life and love … for these human rights offer a way of protecting those without strength. 

It matters because of time spent witnessing the poverty of Palestinian abandonment and the emptiness on the faces of passers-by in the streets of the West Bank and Bethlehem … for these human rights offer a chance to settle hurt without violence.

It matters because of tears touching the stones of empty crofts as people were cleared from Skye because sheep were considered of greater economic return… for these human rights protect the dispossessed by making them count.

It matters because of the brutal hurt of a child in the name of punishment excused as educational… because these human rights speak in the place of silence.

It matters because of the times when I’ve witnessed poor and inadequate care of others because of lack of priority and resource, because these human rights demand and advocate equality for all.

It matters when I’ve seen walls graffitied with obscenity, heard shouts dripping in hatred… because these human rights offer the strength of a community that refuses to accept.

It matters for all those moments when the way ahead in hard moral and ethical choices seems confusing… because these human rights offer the richness of dialogue and the certainty of loving concern.

It matters in those moments of silence when I’ve sat with those close to death… because these human rights bring to life what dignity really means and what humanity can truly be.

So when some demand silence to allow bullying to commence, these human rights matter because they shatter casual complicity.

So when some walk away and refuse to get involved, these human rights matter because they stand in solidarity with pain despite the hurt.

So when some excuse action as an instruction from another or as ‘group think’, these human rights matter because they declare responsibility and demand action.

For these human rights and the Act in which they are held allow me to be fully me, with no apology or need of excuse, and their power is that they do such for you and do they should matter for all. 

They matter not because they are words but because they contain the power to enable us all to be better than we are or have been, and to create a society where dignity is as inalienable as the air we breathe. They are both memory and moment but also future and hope.