Level. . .

The global debate about human rights—taking place in venues from the halls of the United Nations to the street corners of impoverished communities—has brought to the fore many conflicting value systems and worldviews. Individualism vs. communalism. Modernity vs. tradition. East vs. West. North vs. South. Economic and social rights such as the right to employment and decent housing vs. the civil and political rights to free speech and expression.

In the end, however, all concepts of human rights—including those that do not necessarily use the language of “human rights”—have their basis in some understanding of human dignity. In other words, people merit decent treatment because they possess human dignity, some kind of inherent worth that is theirs by the simple fact of being human.

From the Buddhist perspective, given the mind-boggling number of life-forms that fill the universe, human life is a rare privilege with special responsibilities. What makes human life unique is the scale of our choice, the degree to which we are free to choose to act for good or evil, to help or to harm.

Ultimately, the Buddhist understanding of human dignity is rooted in the idea that we are able to choose the path of understanding. This state of self-perfection—a condition of fully developed courage, wisdom and compassion—is described as Buddha hood or enlightenment. The idea that all people—all life, in fact—have this potential is expressed by the concept, that all living beings possess Buddha nature.

We always have the option of choosing to create value from even the most difficult situation. Through such choices we can fulfill our unique purpose and mission in life, and in this way give fullest expression to the inherent treasure of our human dignity. There is perhaps no more solid foundation for human rights than a widespread awakening to the human dignity that resides in every one of us.

Peace and Love, Jim

#level #thedailybuddha

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