It all began, as so many things do, with a misunderstanding. I was putting my son Simon to bed one night when he said,
“Mommy … What’s it like to be a human rights warrior?”
“But I’m not a human rights warrior. I’m a human rights lawyer.”
He waited a couple of seconds – this kid has an uncanny sense of comedic timing – before wrinkling up his little nose and asking,
“What’s a LAWYER?”
I’ll never know what kind of weapons he thought I was secretly carrying in my briefcase because the description of my actual job put him right to sleep. But this bedtime exchange got me thinking. While I have many stories from my experiences in human rights work, most of them I have never shared with anybody. Stories of human rights abuses don’t exactly lend themselves to pleasant cocktail party conversation.
As a parent, however, I am challenged to distill these experiences into something that my kids can understand and profit from. My goal when I started writing the Human Rights Warrior was to think more intentionally about what I have learned from my work in human rights so that I may pass these lessons along to my three kids.
Looking back after nearly two years, I’ve surprised myself with the range of things I have written about. Of course, I have written about Family and Parenting, including Raising Boys Not To Be Total Jerks and Talking to My Kids About Death. But I frankly didn’t expect that I would learn as much from my kids as they would from me (see, for example, Hockey Moms and The Definition of Family. But I’ve also written about:
- Global Events with human rights implications in Greece, India, Liberia, Morocco and Norway.
- The Inspiring Stories of true human rights warriors who I have met, as well as some I haven’t met – politicians (like Licia Ronzulli) and celebrities (like Patrick Stewart and the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch).
- Experiencing Travel to places from Kathmandu, Nepal to Geneva, Switzerland.
- People who have shaped my life, like Rosa Parks, my Grandpa Olaf (who lived to 101) and My Suffragist Grandmother.
As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.”
You CAN make the world a better place! Learning about human rights issues is a good first step. Please join me and my family on this Human Rights Warrior journey. You can also follow along with social media: Facebook (Humanrightswarrior), Twitter (@jprestholdt), Pintrest (jprestholdt), LinkedIn, etc. Thank you for reading!