The Man With The Dragon Tattoo

Okay, so it's not quite a dragon.

I guess it looks more like a penguin?

Every time I meet someone for the first time, they ask me about the tattoo on my wrist.

I'd figure I share my first tattoo experience with you all.


My Tattoo Story

It was at an end-of-year work party with lots of food, drinks, and laughs. My team and I were having a good time and then our CEO stopped the party to announce something.

He told us that there was a tattoo artist who came to tattoo people as part of a human rights project. I was first shocked that somebody would trust a random person to ink them, especially if you couldn't choose your own tattoo. I thought to myself...THIS was going to be a sight to see.

Our CEO was the first to volunteer and asked for 29 more people to sign up with him.

Towards the end of the party, I went over to take a peek at the tattoo station in the other room. I saw a bunch of people gathered around to watch the assembly line in action.

As someone who grew up in a conservative Christian, body-is-a-temple aka no tattoo household, I was cautiously observing from the sidelines. I grabbed a pamphlet laid out on the table to see what this peculiar project was all about.

It was a guy by the name of Sander van Bussel who had this idea of tattooing the Declaration of Human Rights on...well...humans.

That's Sander :)

It's called The Human Rights Tattoo Project and its goal was to tattoo the complete text of the Declaration on individuals, letter by letter. This means that in the end, there was a group of 6,773 people (that's how many letters there are in the Declaration) from all around the world walking together with the complete text of the Declaration of Human Rights.

Sander also did a TEDx Talk about the inspiration behind his project.

As I began reading the declaration of human rights and Sander's motivation behind his project, I became more and more convicted. I just couldn't believe some of the most basic rights to me needed to be protected and enforced by the UN. And realizing that this was just more than some random Chinese lettering tattoo (no offense), I knew I wanted to be a part of this.

6,773 letters, 30 articles, 1 declaration.

Believe it or not, I was the 30th person to get tattooed that day. My tattoo is the 3,459th letter representing the "O" in Association in Article 20 of the Declaration.


Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

I was terrified...

I'm grateful to have this "O" tattoo to remind me of how lucky I am to be free to associate with anyone, no matter the skin color, sexual orientation, religion, or any other differences. I'm also reminded that all humans have the right to be free and equal and that freedom is not free.

And with our never-ending news around violence, injustice, and corruption, it's quite easy to become apathetic and just submit to our current reality given to us. However, this #humanrightstattoo is a small reminder that not everyone lives freely the way that I do. And that I can't take this for granted.


P.S. I am aware that there is a vast variety of opinions concerning tattoos, ranging from “They are down right sinful” to “They are just ugly” to “As long as they mean something” to “I can’t get enough of them”. And so I'm not advocating for or against tattoos. But if you do end up getting one, just make sure you have #noragrets (don't be this guy)

#humanrights #declaration #tattoo #story #equality #justice #freedom