“Equality, What One Strives For”
The famous words “The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom,” said by John Locke, an English philosopher and physician often referred to the “Father of Liberalism”. Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.] and On the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights implement the concept of freedom. Freedom – an abstract term – possesses different perspectives usually dependent upon the scenario. Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.] by Martin Luther King Jr., has better composition with concise examples when compared to Eleanor Roosevelt’s speech On the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King Jr.], becomes motivated as a result of the constant clash between different races, different ethnicities, and different traditions, by not embracing one another and not abiding to the Constitution, which grants the liberties for all people. “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere […] whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” (King, Paragraph 4). Martin Luther King Jr. uses Birmingham as an example as he was on the phone and an individual asked him “engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary” (King, Paragraph 2). This implies how the situation of injustice gets worse by the seconds, minutes, hours, and days. In order to effectively get the message of equal rights for African Americans across, they must engage in direct action, the last of the four basic steps in any nonviolent campaign. Throughout this speech, MLK uses many types of rhetoric such as analogies, parallelism, and repetition, in which case there’s an increasing presence of “we”, “isn’t”, and “I”. The word “we” correlates to the concept of teamwork while the word “I” correlates to theoretical actions possibly eventually executed by Martin Luther King, Jr., himself, as he held the position of president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Additionally the word “isn’t” describes the scenarios that one may face as a consequence of people’s “actions, even though peaceful, [as they] must be condemned because they precipitate violence” (King, Paragraph 21), thus appealing to the emotions. Change lacks possibility of one-man execution and instead requires effort from a group of people. King also utilizes the concepts of “just” and “unjust” laws to further strengthen his claim of freedom for all while using parallelism. “A just law is a man made code that squares with moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law [… In addition] an unjust law is a code that a numerical or a power majority group compels a minority group” (King, Paragraphs 12-13) . Thereby, when MLK describes a just law as a law that correlates with the standards of God, he uses parallelism and appeals to logic. He demonstrates that the concept of racism in this context can’t pertain it as just, as God does not agree with it. Throughout his speech MLK utilizes a passionate tone, displaying his concern towards African Americans , the minority group, stating that they lack the freedom as pictured by the Constitution.
Conversely, in On the Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt presents the idea of the rights of an individual often differs when compared to the rights of a group of people, due to the fact that once an individual decides to become part of a group, community, state, or even nation, sacrifice becomes a necessity as one cannot have everything one may want. This concept of government can relate to the days of the Enlightenment during the early 18th century, where great philosophers such as John Locke arose. In broader terms, Roosevelt’s major claim includes that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should have approval and used as a basis of human rights and freedom. She cites that the Soviet amendments “sets up standards which would enable any state practically to deny all freedom of opinion and expression without violating the article. It introduces the terms ‘democratic view’, ‘democratic systems’ [and] ‘democratic state’” (Roosevelt, Paragraph 5), therefore implying that the Soviets don’t encourage the freedom of choice, and do so in a manner in which case it doesn’t violate any laws. Throughout her speech, she utilizes rhetoric similar to that of Martin Luther King Jr., including parallelism, repetition, and pathos to further her claim. In Paragraphs 10 and 11 Roosevelt tends to use parallelism, where she declares “this Universal Declaration of Human Rights may well become the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere” (Roosevelt, Paragraph 11) and “to serve as a common standard of achievement for all peoples of all nations” (Roosevelt, Paragraph 10). The idea of adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) became prominent as an act of international unity, not bound by moral obligations. Additionally, Roosevelt incorporated repetition of the word “we” in paragraph 2, in which case she tries to get across that collectively one can “persuade… [and] eventually [as a group one] may be successful [as a better fight is put forth]…” (Roosevelt, Paragraph 2). Throughout her speech, Roosevelt also uses an objective tone, thus displaying her seriousness about the topic at hand and her willingness to see the perspective of others.
Both Martin Luther King Jr and Eleanor Roosevelt address the topic of human rights and believe in action’s immediate necessity, however King’s speech consists of an abundant amount of rhetorics, thus strengthening the claim and leading to King presenting a stronger argument when compared to Roosevelt. Eleanor doesn’t include enough reasoning to back up her purpose, to persuade the Assembly to adopt the UDHR, and rather falls short, without a sufficient amount of evidence and elaboration as she claims that the UDHR “may well become the international Magna Carta of men everywhere” (Roosevelt, Paragraph 11). One may say that her speech resembles one of compare and contrast when she starts to mention concepts of the Declaration and starts to differentiate with the Soviet Amendments, and therefore she presents a stronger view when it came to the UDHR itself. While doing so she only achieved that the Soviets “deny all freedom of opinion and expression” (Roosevelt, Paragraph 5) and later uses the concept of discrimination to further her claim that the UDHR underwent many provisions, thus it should have acceptance and incorporation in the 58 nations present in the meeting. “The basic principle of equality and of non discrimination as to public employment is sound, but it cannot be accepted without limitation” (Roosevelt, Paragraph 8), thus incorporating a literary technique, realism. Lastly, King addresses the minorities in Birmingham, the African Americans and uses an abundant amount of allusions throughout his speech whether it be great philosophers, religious figures, and historical events hoping to achieve the logic of trying get the people to become as one, unification of one another, or else history will be set to repeat itself. For example, a point in history occurred in which “the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion” (King, Paragraph 3). In addition, “Paul Tillich said that sin is separation” (King, Paragraph 13), and thus by appealing to the religion both, whites and African Americans shared, it sparks people to see where their morals are.
Influential people such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. have changed the way society has viewed freedom. Through their works, their perspective of freedom and international rights serve as the primary focus. Martin Luther King heavily uses rhetoric in his speech, relying on capturing the reader’s’ emotions, meanwhile Roosevelt keeps her strong objective tone. While they may use different approaches to bring up the idea of civil rights, both people have the same intention – to promote freedom for all.