Right views on human rights and values

Rediff.com, December 9, 2005

New Delhi, India -- Human rights is protecting another's freedom, seeing that the other person is also like oneself. Human rights is giving someone security, letting them live.

If one is not happy, compassionate or friendly, will he ever protect another's human rights? It is not possible. Who violates human rights? Those who do not respect human values hurt others and violate human rights. Even a terrorist has human values. He is concerned about his family. We only have to make him realise that others are also his family.

In today's world, we have become so formal in our dealings with others that it becomes almost mechanical. We need to shift to being more cordial and informal. This is the basis of human values.                    

What are human values? Compassion, friendliness, cooperation, peace of mind, joy and a smile that lasts throughout our life. The sign of success is freedom, a tendency to help and cooperate. We need to ask ourselves: Do we see these values increasing in our society?

Often, we find a crisis that is based on identity. Groups form to assert their identity.

When they do this, somewhere they lose a sense of belongingness with the human race.  For example, when people say, 'I am a Hindu,' or 'I am a Buddhist,' or  'I am a Muslim,' or 'I am a Christian.'

In the process, they are also saying, 'Those who are not Hindus/Muslims/Christians do not belong to me.'  They take a position: 'I am somebody.'

In order to maintain this limited identity, some are ready to lose their life. The same with culture, tribe and nationality. If the emphasis was on being a human, then there would be more peace in society. We need to help people see that before being a Jew, or a Muslim, he is a human being.  And as a human being, the whole of humanity is part of you and belongs to you.

Today, people who are looking for some identity often move into religious dimensions and get caught up in fanaticism or fundamentalism. When there is a lack of proper spiritual education or knowledge about the oneness of the human race, people take a direction that is not beneficial to the welfare of mankind. Friendliness needs to be fostered especially at the educational level.

Neither at home nor in school are we taught how to get anger out of our system, how to handle our emotions.

How can we get anger, violence and the sense of hatred out of the hearts of people? This is the problem that is facing us today. We know the answer philosophically, but what are the practical steps and how do we begin? It is here that something very basic to our life comes into play -- our breath. Breath is the link between body, mind and emotions.

By attending to it, we can calm our minds.

Spiritual guru Sri  Sri Ravi Shankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation that celebrates its 25th anniversary next year.