To visualise a common human rights story, this guide draws on what George Lakoff calls the progressive worldview: “empathy, responsibility [to care for each other], and hope”, and adds one more: shared humanity. In highlighting “uniting” narratives, the Public Interest Research Centre has written that a positive understanding of human nature has the potential to encourage higher levels of trust in others and greater motivation to help and cooperate with one another.
A shared humanity worldview is built on some core ideas:
Human nature is to work together – we are social animals who thrive when we cooperate. Humans can find common cause in working together for humanity, in standing up for other people, anywhere in the world, simply because they are human.
We need to reinforce people’s sense that we are all human beings, with an innate capacity for kindness and compassion, that our natural setting is to treat each other with dignity, no matter who we are or where we come from. We need the simple fact of being human to be a bigger part of people’s identity, from which they can draw a sense of belonging and find a basis for empathy with people who are different.
People make change happen. Human rights violations are not inevitable but the result of decisions people make, and we can do things differently.
These are three narratives human rights actors can use to frame their communications on different issues.