Human Rights

The inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Preamble, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.

Combatting Addiction by Ending the War on Drugs

By Garth Mullins

Jeff has been using crack and heroin for twenty years. He has been on the methadone maintenance program for the last nine years and credits it for keeping him from going back to jail. When it works, methadone reduces the craving for heroin. Over coffee on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, I asked Jeff what could improve health among those in addiction. “Stability,” he said simply. “The chaos of the life is deadly.”

For Jeff, what really messes up the lives of those in deep addiction has more to do with the organization of society than the chemical composition of the drugs. Bad housing and lack of health resources combined with alienation from friends and family as well as ostracization by society ruins the lives of people in addiction.

Just saying “no” may work for a few people, but addiction remains a pernicious social problem in modern societies. For Bruce K. Alexander, a researcher specializing in the psychology of addiction at Simon Fraser University, the dislocation created by industrial society directly contributes to the growing levels of global addiction. Alienated and atomized, “people adapt to this dislocation by concocting the best substitutes that they can for a sustaining social, cultural and spiritual wholeness, and addiction provides this substitute for more and more of us,” says Alexander. (more…)

Lampedusa boat tragedy: a survivor’s story

Repost from the Guardian. Last October a boat went down off the Italian island of Lampedusa, killing 366 migrants on board. What happened next? This is the story of Fanus, a survivor and one of thousands of people who flee Eritrea every year … Continue reading

A Heathen Learning

By Dr. Adriana Garriga-López * These remarks were delivered at the Kalamazoo College 2014 Baccalaureate Service earlier this June. I’ve been asked to meditate on the theme of light for this event, and as I discussed this invitation with my … Continue reading

In search of the activist academic

By Shayna Plaut, Contributing Editor, Human Rights When people ask me “what do you do?” meaning “what do you do for a living?” I find I have two options for how to respond. One is to look proudly in their … Continue reading

The Starting Point Of Death and Justice

By Shayna Plaut, Contributing Editor, Human Rights It was Wednesday night. My friend Malin, who is from Sweden, temporarily living in Edmonton and en route to Taiwan, was staying at my house for a few days in Vancouver. We are … Continue reading

Freedom through Exile: The Unfolding Stories of Cambodian Son

By Shayna Plaut, Contributing Editor, Human Rights Three years after a meeting in the bustling streets of Phnom Phen when the co-founders of Studio Revolt, Masahiro Sugano and Anida Yoeu Ali, first “experienced” Kosal Khiev’s poetry, a documentary about his … Continue reading

Uganda Anti-Gay Bill Author Says Aid Cuts Small Price to Pay

Repost from Reuters. “The donor backlash after President Yoweri Museveni’s approval of the bill last week, imposing jail sentences of up to life for gay sex, reflects a gulf in social attitudes between the West and conservative African governments.The World … Continue reading