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In April 2006 I had the privilege and joy of being at the offices of the San Francisco Mime Troupe Youth Theater Project to begin planning our creative project with youth to help raise greater awareness about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Around the table, in addition to the Mime Troupe staff, were Ellen Sebastian Chang, our soon-to-be Creative Director, Sarah Crowell of Destiny Arts Center, and James Kass of Youth Speaks. We were looking at the UDHR document as printed in the 2006 Rex Foundation newsletter Perspectives on Being Human, reading its Preamble and 30 Articles.
As we contemplated the significance of the UDHR statements, Peggy Rose of the Mime Troupe noted the documentâ€™s eloquence in depicting the world as it could be. And so was born the title of our first creative project, The World As It Could Be â€“ A Declaration of Human Rights, which, because of its positive impact, has now evolved to The World As It Could Be Human Rights Education Program. What has been most meaningful to me over these last two years has been the way the youth and adults involved in the project have gained not just awareness but palpable excitement about the type of world that is possible, and how individual and collective actions
make a difference.
This experience prompted publishing this newsletter right now. We are close to the November 4th U.S. election to choose the next president and Congressional leaders. Weâ€™ll also be choosing local officials and deciding on regulatory policies and amendments to state constitutions. And we are in the midst of a sharp global awakening as to how inter-connected we are in terms of financial and environmental activity. The current situation, though anxiety-provoking and challenging, is a unique opportunity to spur thinking about how vital it is for each of us to be awake and mindful â€“ to know that we can not only envision but also impact the type of world we live in. While we have had visionary thinkers and leaders throughout history, we have not always had the psychological know-how to realize our own individual importance as conscious, caring people, who, by our own actions and awareness of our impact on others, can generate tremendous energy and influence.
In the 2007/08 dramatization The World As It Could Be â€“ Where Thereâ€™s A Will Thereâ€™s A Way, created by the youth of the Destiny Arts Center Performance Troupe, there was a segment where each person presented minute actions they would take to manifest the words of the UDHR. One said, â€œI will no longer drink bottled water.â€ Another said, â€œI will speak up if I witness anyone being disrespectful to others.â€ And another said, â€œI will vote.â€
December 10, 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, when all the nations in the world agreed that it was vital to work toward a world that provided for everyone the conditions laid out by each of the 30 Articles. I know that the people who work to carry out the programs supported by Rex Foundation grants are doing all they can to manifest these words. Iâ€™m also seeing how the young people who learn about the UDHR are inspired to take on responsibilities as global citizens to manifest itâ€™s words. Iâ€™m hopeful that the messages conveyed here and throughout this newsletter provide encouragement to consider the type of world desired for generations to come and how invaluable each personâ€™s thinking and actions are to making this happen.
â€“ Sandy Sohcot