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What Does It Mean To Be Human Essay

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) reflects the contemporary understanding of what it means to be human, that the basis for harmony, justice and liberty in society is the recognition of the fundamental and inalienable rights of all human beings.
To be human is to have rights, the concept that all beings have an inherent ‘right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ (Merino 2011, p. 4). Shestack (2000, p. 33) further reinforces this point by stating that in order to have human rights, ‘one need only be human’.
Primarily, human rights are only bestowed upon those who are believed to be “human”. However, during the course of history not all individuals have been considered to be “human”, which in turn has ramifications in relation to the treatment of those thought to be other than or less than human. For instance, up until the 1967 referendum in Australia, Aboriginals were not officially classified as human beings but rather “flora and fauna”
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Hitler referred to these people as Aryan and accentuated that they were the supreme form of human being (Fitzpatrick 2008). Anyone that did not fit Hitler’s ideal was considered subhuman, racially inferior and were subject to inhumane treatment. For instance, the Jewish people who suffered appallingly at the hands of Nazi Germany at the onset of 1933, which saw Jewish businesses being shutdown, Jews being beaten and later sent to concentration camps (Fitzpatrick 2008). In Hitler’s eyes Jews were seen as subordinate, repulsive and liars. Hitler used his influence and position to launch a crusade against Jews, which ultimately culminated in the Holocaust and saw the death of roughly six million Jews (Fitzpatrick 2008). Consequently, it is quite clear how a simple definition of “human being” can have a devastating and Detrimental impact on the treatment of

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