Human rights are one of the great tasks of our civilisation. This article discusses the importance of this task along with our personal responsibility to be involved.
This article fleshes out some of the ideas in the introduction and would be a good one to read after that.
The massacres in Rwanda were an event that touched me deeply, and taught me much about the world. Here are a couple of good summary articles about why the west should also learn from them.
...he [Hitler] has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all ‘progressive’ thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet.
— George Orwell
Howard Zinn
Having been a bomber in World War Two, Howard Zinn is well placed to give a unique perspective on issues of pacifism, violence, dissent and just war in his short interview-based book Terrorism and War. Zinn in this book reminded me somewhat of Chomsky (who deeply admires and has been heavily influenced by Zinn) with his obviously broad knowledge and recall of statistics, quotes and other evidence. This book is inspiring and thought-provoking, especially Zinn's original take on the morality of WW2. If you can't find time to read this book, at least watch his talk "Three holy wars" as...