“And it came to pass.” That five-word phrase in the Bible usually introduces a momentous event, whether favorable or unpleasant.
So, let’s consider a few “and it came to pass” events as the world observes Human Rights Day in 2021.
“And it came to pass” that humanity across the Earth was threatened by a lethal respiratory novel coronavirus that was first identified in December 2019.
More than five million persons have died from COVID-19 disease. The death count across the world is at 6,500 each day, according to the Dec. 7, 2021, international edition of The Guardian newspaper.
Wealthy nations lead the world in new cases and deaths, despite having the greatest access to safe vaccines that prevent serious sickness and death from the lethal disease.
In the two years that the disease has plagued the world, human greed, nationalist pride, moral incompetence and political ambition have been obstacles to cooperative efforts to protect the whole world from the pandemic.
“And it came to pass” that Oxfam, a global movement of people fighting inequality to end injustice and poverty, reports on its website that “extreme inequality” exists in the world.
The world’s richest 1% have more than twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people. Nearly half the world’s population – 3.4 billion people – live on less than $5.50 per day.
Every year, 100 million people are pushed into poverty because they must pay out of pocket for health care. Currently, 258 million children – 1 out of 5 – will not be allowed to attend school. Globally, women earn 24% less than men and own 50% less wealth.
“And it came to pass” that extreme income and wealth inequality, greed, lust for power and bigotry make community seem like a global fantasy instead of a human imperative. The inequality is not accidental. It is deliberate, calculated and purposeful.
“And it came to pass” that humanity appears to have cursed itself and the world by that greed, lust for power, inequality and bigotry.
Human devotion to industrial power through fossil fuel-based sources of energy now poisons air, water and soil across the Earth. Like income and wealth inequality, contamination of the basic elements required for the earth to be a habitable planet for humans and all other creatures is occurring on purpose. Humans are solely responsible for it.
“And it came to pass” that those humans have ignored pleas across generations to change our ways.
Humans have rejected appeals from prophets to make amends for centuries of racism, sexism, bigotry against women, girls and LGBTQI persons, and hostility towards immigrants.
Across the world, immigrants seeking asylum from war, disease, extreme poverty, religious and political persecution, and genocide are excluded, mistreated and maligned.
On Human Rights Day 2021, the world aches, bleeds and weeps from wounds and other harms inflicted by humans in the name of religion, national pride and commercial greed.
Plants, animals, birds and other creatures are not making the biosphere sick, are not making oceans rise, glaciers melt and deserts spread, and are not causing other species to be endangered.
On Human Rights Day 2021, human avarice, lust for power and violence threaten the survivability of the entire Earth.
On Human Rights Day 2021, one wonders if humans recognize that humanity should protect the world, not threaten it. One wonders if humans understand that the world cannot survive if humans refuse to embrace community with the entire planet.
On Human Rights Day, 2021, one wonders when white people will behave as if Indigenous people and people of color are entitled to life without terror, discrimination, exploitation and genocide in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia and Palestine.
One wonders about these things on Human Rights Day 2021. One grieves not only for past sins of humanity against itself, the rest of creation and its Creator, but also for the future of humanity.
And one wonders when humanity will lament the predicament it has manufactured. One wonders whether humans have lost the moral ability to admit culpability for the existential threat we pose to ourselves and the rest of the planet we co-inhabit.
One wonders, above all, if humans have become so depraved, self-centered and avaricious that they no longer are able to see the Earth as home to all people and every species.
If so, one laments that humans have become monsters who threaten the world.
“And it came to pass” that monsters watched and applauded the observance of Human Rights Day 2021 – then they continued to doom the world.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series this week calling attention to the United Nations’ Human Rights Day (Dec. 10).
The Persistent Widow and the United Nations | Wissam al-Saliby
Words Alone Won’t Secure Human Rights, Address Climate Crisis | David Wheeler
Humans Right Day: A Proclamation of Freedom for All | Jaziah Masters
Resolutions Are Only Revolutionary If Implemented | Helle Liht
A Life and Death Look at Human Rights | William Brackney
How to Not Pour Gas on Climate Fire | Scott Stearman
Pastor at New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, a retired state court trial judge, a trustee of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, author of one book and three blogs, a consultant on cultural competency and inclusion, and a contributing correspondent at Good Faith Media.