Lancaster, Lewis R.
Hsi Lai Journal of Humanistic Buddhism=西來人間佛教學報
|14 - 19
|International Academy of Buddhism, University of the West
|Rosemead, CA, US [柔似蜜, 加利福尼亞州, 美國]
|Winston Churchill gave us a definition of democracy that indicates the difficulty of dealing with it. In his witty way, he reminded an audience ‘It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government – except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” This statement of Churchill alerts us to the fact that democracy has both negative and positive aspects. When we discuss democracy and Buddhism, it is essential to explore some of the history of the concept of democracy as well as the ways in which this approach to government has been applied to societies. Much of what we say about democracy has a particular history. For example, the concept of human rights is based on common law tradition of England. Such an idea goes back to the ancient feudal system in England and to the subsequent legal decisions. In other words, aspects of social life found under the umbrella of democracy are the product of historical processes. These histories make it difficult to reach a logical conclusion about human rights based on certain universal principles. When we make comparisons between democracy and Buddhism, we are faced with the decision of how much we look at the historical developments rather than asserting that the comparison works at the level of certain timeless absolutes.
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