F is for the Four Freedoms
There aren't many specific lessons that I remember from school. Sure I can read, write, and do basic math so I must have learned something, but there are very few learning experiences that made it into long-term memory. I do, however, distinctly remember learning about FDR and the Four Freedoms. I don't remember the teacher, but the class was in one of those portable classrooms that was set up and then never moved, at George K. Porter Junior High School.
"We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way-- everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want . . . everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear . . . anywhere in the world."I think this lesson was the first time the concept of universal human rights made an impact on me. It was the early 60's and the civil rights rights movement was raging. We had to make a poster that illustrated each of the freedoms. I remember cutting out pictures from Life Magazine...an iconic photo of a drinking fountain with a sign that said "whites only." Which freedom did that illustrate? As I think about it now I'm not sure. Freedom from fear? I do know that this lesson stuck with me and reinforced a belief that there are basic human rights for everyone, male-female, black-white, gay-straight, American or not.
--President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Message to Congress, January 6, 1941
What a wonderful world we would have if the four freedoms really were universal.