Pluralistic traditions

When Asians or Africans practicing Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic or indigenous traditions assert their cultural rights today and complain that international human rights law is dominated by Western individualism, they are challenging the universality of the idea that communities are formed by individuals who enter into a social contract. In historical terms, of course, they are correct. Until very recently, all societies were formed more around kinship and ethnic identities, than by the voluntary decisions of their individual members. Prior to modern democratic forms of government, individuals had little to say about the laws that governed their societies. Any assertion of the universality of human rights, therefore, must be acknowledged as a contemporary claim that such rights are universally the necessary social conditions for human dignity

It is perfectly understandable that those who were oppressed under colonial or Communist rule now seek to create laws that will assist the recovery of their religious tradition. They do so in the name of religious freedom even if this means that the laws they support do not envision equal treatment among religious groups. They will not easily be persuaded that a neutral state, which does nothing either to help or to hinder religious life, is a better alternative than a state that identifies with and promotes the dominant religious heritage.

In India political movements are promoting the idea of "Hindustan," a form of government that favors Hindu cultural and religious traditions. In Sri Lanka the attempt by the majority Sinhalese community to create a political order reflecting its Buddhist orientation is being resisted violently by the minority Tamils, who are primarily Hindu. In Japan Soka Gakai fields political candidates espousing a Nichiren Buddhist vision of Japanese government. In South Africa a nationalistic, Christian doctrine of white supremacy lingers in a nation that until recently enforced apartheid. In the struggle to control the government in the Sudan, conflict between tribes that are largely either Muslim or Christian has led to a protracted civil war.




Hindus © Robert Traer 2016