I am a humanist. So What? All human beings are sisters and brothers. All are expected to love one another. So, what is the big thing of being a humanist?
It is not as simple as that.
The United Nations (UN) Declaration of Human Rights Article I states: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood."
The Preamble of the Constitution of India desires to secure to all its citizens: "Justice - social, economic and political; Liberty - of thought, ex
All these are well said with the best of intentions. But do they actually work?
The UN Declaration of Human Rights is not mandatory to individual nations that work according to the diktat of the respective governments. The laudable assurance the Indian Constitution gives to its citizen is watered down by laws and practices of the prevailing government.
It is the mode of the government that decides the human rights of its people. The more democratic the state, the more freedom the people enjoy. The more dictatorial the government, the more restrictions on the people. Human Rights also depend to some extent to the wishes of the heads of government. The rights enjoyed under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru may not be the same as that under his daughter, Indira Gandhi, especially during emergency.
Democracy is the best form of government -- rule of the people, by the people, for the people. The less democracy, the more violation of human rights. For example, in the North Korean dictatorship, every person is a soldier; man is born to be a soldier, trained to be blindly obedient to the government. Dress alike, pay obeisance to the leader, march in step with the rest of the population singing paeans to the dictator.
Man is biologically an animal born free to fend for himself/herself after weaning off from parents. But then this can happen in the primitive times or aborigines for whom time stood still. They have no enemies and don't fight each other and kill one another. The civilized call them savages.
But who are the savages? The aborigines who live in peace or the civilised who kill tens of thousands in wars?
War is the worst violation of human rights. And a soldier is one who has no human rights, he has surrendered his right to his state that is at war. He is to shoot and kill another man, a complete stranger who has never wronged him because he belongs to the enemy country.
Hostility between countries is more a requirement of governments, of the rulers of respective countries. At the international level, World War II broke out when Hitler thought that Germans were a superior race destined to rule over the world and started invading and annexing neighbours. He had his friends in dictators like Mussolini in Italy and monarchists of Japan, who together formed the Axis powers.
Other countries like the UK, the USA, France etc. found the need to resist the dictatorial Axis and allied themselves to fight the axis menace. World War II ensued and thousands of people on both sides, human beings who had no enmity between them, died. Many more thousands of old people, women and children were killed in bombings. The USA that facilitated research on splitting atom, discovered the atom bomb. The US government tested it in the desert and proved its devastating effect.
In fact, the splitting of atom that led to the discovery of atom bomb was attained by the research of Jewish scientists who fled from Germany when Hitler unleashed the racial genocide on Jews. If they were allowed to remain in Germany and work, the atom bomb would have been discovered by Germany, and this would have resulted in the invincibility of Germany. Perhaps the first victim of it could have been England and London could have been obliterated from world map by a single bomb, instead of Japan's Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But then, America tested the bomb on Japan instead of on Germany. This was racial preference that Germany was of whites but Japan yellow Mangloid, so dispensable. It was a sadistic act. The Axis powers were almost defeated and were ready to surrender. There was no need of using the atom bomb but it was used as an experiment to prove its destructive power. And the American action was inexcusable.
Ruling politicians of all countries say they stand for peace. But all are preparing for war. While their standing armed forces are replenished, the defence industries are researching on newer/more effective weapons and manufacturing them to be more effective in killing people.
India is the paragon of peace and Prime Minister Modi says the time for war is over. But his Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, goes ecstatically proud to declare that India has been able to export million-dollar worth of armaments to other countries.
Pope Francis said in one of his exhortations that industrialist countries should stop manufacturing arms and exporting them to developing countries to avoid war. Will the manufacturers of arms in the US who export weaponry to other countries listen to the Pope? They may contribute millions of dollars to the Catholic Church in their country rather than stop manufacturing arms.
Any action that promotes war is violation of human rights. Manufacturing of nuclear weapons, their maintenance and threat to use them are the utmost violation of human rights. All countries formally support disarmament especially elimination of nuclear weaponry. But they find excuses that their potential enemies have them and they too have to have them for deterrence.
Coming back to the individual being a humanist, one's ideal has to compromise with the prevailing political and societal compulsions. One has to be patriotic and cannot injure the faiths of people even when you don't agree to all of them.
Then how to be a humanist? Love mankind, care for nature and promote peace with limitations of one's freedom. Be a fighter against wrongs and injustice. Be a rebel in one's heart against the oppressive establishments.