- Perspectives on “Human Rights and the Well-Being of the Humanity”
- Human Rights: A Product of the History of Oppression and Struggle
- Human Rights: Towards New Challenges and Broader Definition
- Human Rights: Basis for Further Steps towards Peace and Harmony
- Human Rights: Insufficient and Insecure in Presence of Human Ignorance
- Human Rights: A Success Story will Depend on Linkage to Constructive Ethics
- Synopsis Buddhist Approach on Laws: Principle for Practice
Human Rights: Insufficient and Insecure in Presence of Human Ignorance
If we do not think in this sense, the exercise, the protection of our rights might be distorted; problems might arise from the exercise of our rights. Rules and laws might be use for exploitation or to create distrust. For example, if neighbours always feel concerned that others will violate their rights, then their relations will not be kindly but sour. Especially today as people often think about maximizing their interests, when violation takes place or when there is any basis for filing suit, people will go to lawyer to submit the case to court to get fines from the other side, which now often takes place in the US.
These kinds of petty quarrels happen so often that some lawyers so generously begin offering legal counseling free of charge, which is quite unusual in the US where even a brief consultation also cost dearly. The free counseling is offered so that if the case can be submitted to court, and if the plaintiff wins, the lawyer will get a sizable percentage or even half of fines received. So it all involves self-interest.
This is just one example to show that civilization is not measured by only the presence or the availability of rules and regulations. The rule of law in which the West takes pride, though highly important, cannot sufficiently serve as a guarantee for civilization. The mind that reaches out for Dharma and freedom is what guarantees for the function of rules and regulations. If we live together simply in compliance of prescribed rights but without the right mind and proper thinking, problems will definitely arise, as what is happening in the American society. We, human beings, therefore, must not stop at relying on rights as the basis for action.
Rights are products and reflection of social progress and evolution of civilization.
On one hand, in certain societies, basic rights are not even recognized, and it shows how deprived, uncivilized and undeveloped those societies are.
On the other hand, one might question whether it is sufficient to live together just in compliance with respect for prescribed rights, just to guard and to demand for rights, and whether it cannot be made into a better society.
This explains why we must take caution to avoid falling into the two extreme scenario. We should not stop ourselves at simply acting in compliance with rules and regulations with regard to rights, but we must progress on. This will lead to a society where human beings do not live together simply in compliance with rules and regulations solely. Rules and regulations are undeniably important, they serve as concrete tools for righteousness. Any society that does not have rules, regulations or laws are backward. We need frameworks for action, but we need two sides of the coin. While we need concrete rules and regulations, we also need the right mind, the right thinking. Both are interdependent.
Looking at the American society which offers many other examples; equality before the law is believed to bring about social unity between the black and the white. Several laws were introduced to guarantee people’s rights. But laws are external factors and are just “forms” which are unable to bind people’s hearts. The black and the white are not harmonized. Paradoxically, even the Americans say that the rift between the black and the white is now even more widening.
The reason why the case of the American society is cited here does not mean that the American society is in a worse shape than any other societies. Many other societies are facing much more serious problems than the American society. But the American society stands out prominently as a society that upholds freedom, liberty and harmony, and as a firm beholder of human rights. Moreover, many in the world truly admire the American society without clear understanding and take the American society as their model for creation of a peaceful society. In addition, the American society have its own particular problems and many loose ends to solve. To focus mainly on the case of American society, therefore, is simply aimed to remind people of the necessity to grasp the problems at the root cause and the danger of blinded imitation of a seemingly successful society in its social and economic development.
Even if anybody sees that the American society is a prosperous and most happily to live in, then one can recall that even in a society which is held as the most developed in the world, both in terms of material wealth and in terms of the abundance of rules and regulations, is still far from desirable.
We must therefore realize that rules and regulations only are not sufficient to bind human beings and to enable them to live in harmony. In living together, human beings need to work together, need to unite. But now human beings are facing a great number of problems. How then is to create this unity, this solidarity? We use the UDHR then as a tool to lead the mankind to a better and peaceful society, with unity and solidarity, binding free and equal human beings altogether. However, if we do not use the UDHR in the right manner, with the right attitude, it then becomes an end in itself, used merely to claim for rights and can even cause social division and conflict.
To progress on, we need to develop human beings through real education. We cannot end simply at a society without violation but we must aim for society where we live together and give one another a chance, and care for each other. A “caring society” is what we need and what we aim for.