Seventy-five years ago, the Samuel Goldwyn masterpiece “The Best Years of Our Lives” premiered to universal critical and popular acclaim. Reviewing the film now, two overarching contrasts between past and present are clear.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (UDHR) impact across the globe was beyond what Eleanor Roosevelt and its drafters could have imagined. As we look forward, the human rights agenda is in great need of reform and renewal. Perhaps a return to the spirit of 1948 and the wisdom of its original drafters can provide wisdom for the future.
In 1946 when the prospects for what would become the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) appeared dim, President Harry Truman appointed Eleanor Roosevelt to a UN committee where she could promote universal human rights.
General Matthew Ridgway was a conservative internationalist who supported free institutions, defense alliances, and unsurpassed military might while opposing unsustainable wars beyond the range of national interests.
But what struck me about reading The Most Controversial Decision is how we now superimpose our judgments on Truman’s decision post hoc, and we do this with great zeal, certainty, and righteous superiority.