Publicado em 17 de outubro de 2007
Traduções disponíveis em: français (original) . Español . Português do Brasil .

Values and practices: unity and diversity

Throughout human history, traditions of wisdom - religious and otherwise - have taught values, to guide human behaviour towards a responsible attitude. Their basic premise, still relevant today, has been that individual and social values influence practices. In fact, practices and values mutually influence each other. Such values include the right to a life of dignity and respect for non-human forms of life, a preference for dialogue rather than violence, compassion and consideration for others, solidarity and hospitality, truthfulness and sincerity, peace and harmony, justice and equity, and a preference for the common good rather than self-interest.

And yet, there may be times when these values have to be weighed against each other, when an individual or a society faces dilemmas, such as the need to encourage economic development while protecting the environment and respecting human rights. These issues are all interconnected and cannot be addressed separately. Overall responsible action implies that different categories of human activity have to be integrated. It requires the need for judgment with clarity of thought on values and competing imperatives. Everyone must be aware of the interconnectedness of these imperatives; and even if people’s priorities may differ due to their own histories and present circumstances, those priorities cannot be used as an excuse for ignoring the other issues at stake.

Although the sense of responsibility is found among all human groups, there are differences in the ways in which responsibility is assumed. In some societies responsibility is assigned by the group to an individual, rather than taken up at his or her own initiative. In practice, the way in which people are held responsible for their actions varies. Cultural differences play an important role when it comes to giving a legal context to the concept of responsibility.Just as the world’s nations have accepted the idea of ’Human Rights’, the time has now come to introduce the concept of ’Human Responsibilities’. Global co-operation and global governance, indeed, are inconceivable without certain universally accepted ideas and principles which, whatever their origins, can be considered beneficial to all humankind, non-human life forms and the ecosystems of life.


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