The Heart of Protest and Philanthropy

The Heart of Protest and Philanthropy

Pentecost 180


The right to lawful assembly was considered very important to the founding fathers of the United States of America.  In the time since the passage of the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, it is easy to forget and misuse this very basic freedom.  While it was a part of the Constitution since its inception, the concept is not an American idea or freedom.


“Freedom of peaceful assembly is a recognized right under international human rights law.  While there are variations of this right – i.e., whether advance notification or authorization is required for an assembly to take place under the law, etc.,  France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, as well as the United States ensure this right to their citizens.  The European Court of Human Rights surveyed this right in these countries and all require advance notification, except Sweden, which requires either authorization or notification depending on the type of assembly, and the United States, where the Supreme Court has held that it is permissible under the US Constitution for a government to require a permit to hold a peaceful assembly.” [Taken from]


One person asked if this blog had suddenly become political and my answer is a definitive “NO!”  The right to gather together is a very important aspect of working towards a better tomorrow and the first step in making the ordinary reality of many into something extraordinarily better.  The key phrase is “lawful”, however, and that is something we should all note and seek to be in compliance.


According to, “The right to assemble is intricately related to the formation and growth of the philanthropic sector because it answers the need to come together, share common beliefs, and act upon those beliefs (concepts that have been so essential to this sector’s creation). Groups form for many purposes, from reform movements (women’s suffrage, the struggle for civil rights) to charitable organizations that meet specific needs (e.g., the American Red Cross) to churches, mosques and synagogues.”


Lawful assemblies are a major way that people come together to make a difference and bring about positive change.  The First Amendment to the US Constitution provides for “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.  It includes the right to association and this is carried out every day when people get together in book clubs, and bike clubs, church picnics, and yes, even political rallies.


Recently a young college student was beaten to death in a suburb seventy miles from Minneapolis.  His only crime was associating with his friends and fellow students at a pizza parlor.  A friend to all and very likeable and devoted student, this young exchange student was simply being with friends as they celebrated the weekend.  His death defies anything legal and was without justification.


Being different is not a crime and we need to understand that to somebody, we all are different.  The right to associate with others is considered an unalienable right, not just in the Northern Hemisphere but worldwide.  We cannot help others unless we do it together and to do that, we must assemble.  We cannot live in a vacuum.  We need to expand our horizons and reach out to those who have something to offer us, to those who are not our clones, to those we are …different.


The goal of the Allies during World War II was simple and adopted as the Four Freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. The United Nations Charter “reaffirmed faith in fundamental human rights, and dignity and worth of the human person” and committed all member states to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”. 


December 10th as become known as World Human Rights Day.  O that day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly meeting at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of what many people believe to be the rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.


This year December 10th will be the 68th anniversary of World Human Rights Day, a day whose purpose is to recognize dignity and justice for all of us.  Peaceful assembly is a guaranteed right so that we can associate with others and make this world something better than it is.  The countries abstaining from ratification in 1948 are still nations in which people have limited freedoms.  There is still much work to be done.


We need to recognize that we alone are not enough and we as one segment of society need to reach out and learn from each other.  We need to come together right now peacefully in order to make these ordinary times into something extraordinary. 




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