Human Rights in the 21st Century
Born of their struggles to uphold human rights this dialogue represents the coming together of two kindred spirits, Austregésilo de Athayde (1898-1993) and Daisaku Ikeda. Athayde was president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and, as Brazilian representative to the United Nations, a decisive voice in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Finding that Buddhist principles can enrich the human rights movement, they aim to convey a “new humanism” which encapsulates the spirit of the declaration, the supreme value of the human being.
Ikeda pinpoints the heart of this “new humanism” as the “firm belief in the absolute equality” of all people based on the universal dignity or Buddhahood inherent within in all life. From the recognition that all people share a common humanity, a sense of brotherhood replaces obsession with such differences as nationality, ideology and culture. Athayde writes that the impetus for resolving the most difficult obstacle in drafting the universal declaration—diversity of opinion—was “enthusiasm” for their “shared humanity.”