The Essence of Human Rights : Part III

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Many leading thinkers around the world lament the fact that there is no country that can serve as an ideal for human rights. Our aim should be to become the winner in humanistic competition the contest of human rights and to serve as a model for the world. Our political leaders and our educators should also work towards that goal.

In the long history of humanity up to now there has been no true happiness, no true peace. Both leaders and great thinkers have pursued these goals, but they have not attained them. The same is true today. Unless things change, the future promises to be an endless repeat of the present dilemma. One of the main reasons for this lamentable state of affairs is the failure to securely establish human rights.

It is true that many organizations have, at various times and places, talked about the importance of guaranteeing human rights. But all too often, support for human rights stops at words, remaining nothing more than a pretty rhetorical flourish to brighten up a speech; it is not accompanied by a serious awareness or knowledge of what safeguarding human rights really implies.

Unless our commitment to human rights has a basis in a profound philosophy and views of humanity, our words will ring hollow. But just as important as philosophy is the willingness to stand up for our beliefs and take actions. Human rights will never be won unless we speak out, unless we fight to secure them. Even if human rights are protected and guaranteed by law and government policy, ceaseless efforts are necessary to ensure that they are indeed upheld; otherwise those rights will become empty, a reality in name only.

Power is a demonic force that despises human rights, whether that power be the power of national governments or any other institution or organization. Securing human rights protects the individual, based on the awareness that each person is precious and irreplaceable. The purpose of upholding human rights is to enable all people to live with dignity and realize their potential. But power looks on people as a mass, not as individuals. It treats them s objects, as members and statistics.

When there is little respect for human rights, the way is paved for the lawlessness of dictatorship and mob rule. Society does not prosper. Human rights, democracy and peace are a single entity. When one disintegrates, they all disintegrate. Leaders in all spheres of society must engrave that truth in their minds.

In a society where there is no fundamental respect for human rights, reputation and standing are nothing. The most important thing is whether we have genuine love and compassion for others. Every sphere of human endeavor – education, culture, science, government, business and economics must guarantee and foster human rights or come to a dead end. In education, for example schools should exist for the sake of the students. Yet today it is as if the students exist for the sake of the schools. We need to refocus on the importance of benefiting humanity, and make fresh departure from there. That is how human rights are established.

Essentially, you have to become stronger. That too, is a part of the struggle for human rights. Having your rights as a human being recognized by others is not just a matter of having people behave sympathetically towards you. You must be proud of yourself as an individual, regardless of your disability. You must be proud of your personal mission. Those who laugh at you and make fun of you are cruel and wrong, and they are creating a terrible burden of negative karma for themselves by ignoring your right to be treated as a human being. Letting their taunts get to you is a defeat for human rights. Your strength, however, is a victory for human rights.

One must live with dignity. Character I the foundation of human rights. It is far more valuable than money. No true peace can be achieved as long as we seek only material wealth. We must make the twenty-first century a century of wealth. We must make the twenty-first century a century of human rights. We must build a society that has more than its short-term profit as a goal. To do that, the first step is to respect ourselves and to live with dignity, self-confidence and pride. Such a person can treat others with respect.

Those who can get on with all kinds of people as equals, as fellow human beings, manifest true excellence of character. They are people of genuine culture and education. The richer our own hearts, our own humanity, the more we are able to recognize and value humanity of others. Those who bully and belittle others only diminish their own humanity.

Human rights are the sun that illuminates the world along with love of humanity, kindness and consideration. All these things light our world. It is their light that brings “cherry, plum, peach and apricot” into glorious bloom in society, that enables everyone to reveal their unique potential.

It is therefore our mission to make the sun of human rights rise over the twenty-first century. To do that, we must make the courageous sun of love for humanity rise first in our own hearts. A great river begins with a tiny drop of water and, from that humble beginning, flows into the sea. The current toward a century of human rights has just begun.

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