07.15: Are we violating our own human rights?
The Bhagavad-gita (7.15) uses the word mudhas, meaning asses, to refer to those unfortunate people who violate their own human rights.
Our society exalts as human rights those claims that nature automatically and adequately endows to animals: bodily protection and maintenance. Gita wisdom prods us to rethink whether we might have got our definition of human rights wrong. True, our mismanagement of nature’s gifts has made these natural endowments rare for a large number of our fellow humans.
Nonetheless, our essential human right – the feature that differentiates us from animals – is our faculty for philosophical thought; our ability to contemplate the meaning and purpose of our existence; our capacity to enquire about our actual identity and final destiny. Our essential human right is the right to spiritual enlightenment.
If we let our lives be motivated and directed by the animal pleasures of food, sex, sleep and show of strength, then we cheat ourselves of the opportunity for enlightenment that our human body offers us. Thus, we end up violating our own human rights. Not only that, our unbridled pursuit of bodily pleasures causes us to consume disproportionate quantities of material resources. As our planet supports these resources in a finite capacity, our unnecessary consumption inevitably encroaches upon others’ necessary quota of material resources. So, when we violate our human right in the spiritual sense of the word, we also collude in violating others’ human rights in the material sense of the word.
Therefore, if we wish to contribute in stopping the violation of others’ human rights, we can begin right now by ending the violation of our own human right to enlightenment.