Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 5


0 Introduction:
The methods used to research and find the evidence for this field report on the effects of slavery, was through internet research, face-to-face interviews with a Christian priest and a Buddhism guide, class work and notes. The ethical issue chosen for this field report was the destructive effects of human rights and social justice through the form of slavery. It will give an in-depth view of how slavery is perceived in the eyes of the Christian Church, the Buddhist religion and society. The report will give arguments on why slavery is bad and how it affects the equality and dignity of the human person. In the ancient scriptures and teachings of both religions, Christianity and Buddhism, the actions of slavery are indecisive, but morally, slavery is the worst type of violation to a humans rights and dignity. 1.1 Slavery: David P. Forsythe wrote: "At the beginning of the nineteenth century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom. (David P. Forsythe (2009). Slavery can be traced back into the earliest records of time and can be found in various cultures, including both Christianity and Buddhism. Slavery has been known in many ancient civilisations, such as Ancient Egypt, China and Greece and throughout the Roman Empire and was used for many reasons; such as a form of punishment due to crime, enslaving prisoners of war, child abandonment or to pay off a debt. Slavery is no longer legal anywhere in the world, with Mauritania being the last country to do so in 1981. However, the number of slaves today is higher than at any other point in history. The United Nations banned slavery in their Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which can be seen in Article 4, No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. Many are unaware that the crime of selling and enslaving human beings is now second on the international crime list, behind drug trafficking. The UN estimates that over 700,000 people are trafficked globally each year and through this, it produces an estimated $10 billion (USD). Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, director and senior fellow of Concerned Women for Americas Beverly LaHaye Institute, says, many of the victims are just children, with the average age being between 1214. (Vu, M, 2007)

2.0 Findings:
2.1Human Rights and Social Justice: Human rights and social justice is given to everyone, as all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, written in the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 1. Ideas of justice developed with the teachings of the worlds great religions, including Christianity and Buddhism. These religions emphasised the importance of sharing, equality of treatment, not profiting at the expense of disadvantaged groups in society, the evils of greed, and rulers behaving righteously, fairly and justly towards their people. Justice means fair treatment no matter who, what or where you are. Though many say that peace will never occur, as human nature will not allow it. Though, the abuses of human rights often happen when a country has to balance the needs of a few people against the needs of many. Karl Marx (Appendix 5) argued that humans did not have a fixed innate nature, but were instead defined by their social relationships, which in turn, were dependent on the economic structure of society and the classes it produced. He didnt believe that injustice was caused by human competition, selfishness and aggression but in political-economic structures based on subjugation, discrimination and exploitation. Justice would prevail when individuals received what they needed on the basis of their humanity and not on what they deserved because of their social class origin or productivity. (Marx, K, 1864) 2.2 Society Views on Slavery: Abraham Lincoln said, If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. Many believe that it is against the human nature to own one another, to oppress and remove their rights. Overall, people think treating someone with indignity and not treating them as an equal immoral but to actually subjugate them to work for nothing, tormenting and humiliating them and to be considered a possession rather than a person is depraved and unjust. Slavery is an affront to fundamental values, which are shared by all cultures and peoples, values rooted in the very nature of the human person. (Kralis, B, 2006) Many of the victims are some of the poorest and most defenceless in the human family. The exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable is caused by a number of contributing factors, such as; Unfair and oppressive economic conditions Lack of political commitment addressing the problem of slavery Family debt and A lack of enforcing the laws

Society believes slavery in all forms is a degradation of human equality. (Kralis, B, 2006)

2.3 Buddhist Views on Slavery: Buddha held that each and every man is a potential Buddha, therefore everyone must enjoy equal rights and freedom. (Singh, A, 2010) Millions of people in the East have been following the teachings of Buddha for over two and a half thousand years. It is a religion that doesnt demand blind faith but insist that they see the truth of Buddhas teachings for themselves. Buddhism arose in India as a spiritual force against social injustices, against degrading superstitious rites, ceremonies and sacrifices; it denounced the tyranny of the caste system and advocated the equality of all men; it emancipated woman and gave her complete spiritual freedom. - Walpola Rahula, 1978 (Jones, K, 2011) Buddha condemned slavery in every form, as he was in favour of providing equal platform to each and every individual, irrespective of caste, creed and sex. Buddha has also been boldly suggested to be the pioneer of the elimination of slavery. Instead, he suggests that there are four ways a master should serve his employees; 1. 2. 3. 4. Work should be determined by the employees health Food and wages should be given Proper care taken if he/she is sick Holidays should be given to employees when awarded

Buddha was compassionate for the working class and believed they should be treated equally. (Singh, A, 2010) Though, the eight-fold path doesnt explicitly forbid slavery but it does propose that the trade in living beings is not the right form of livelihood and this appears to ban Buddhists from engaging in the slave trade. (1B:3) Slavery was apart of Buddhist culture, though they were called servants rather than slaves. (Gombrich, R, 1988) Many argue that slavery in Buddhism never appeared, as many voluntarily submitted themselves to servitude, as compensation for a crime or a repayment of a debt. For the most part, the slaves were household servants and not badly treated, suggests Rhys David, writer of the 1955 edition of Buddhist India. According to Desmond Tatu, the Buddhists belief in karma and reincarnation has been used to justify slavery, the logic being that a persons enslavement must be the result of punishable actions in a previous life. (1B:1b) This karma can also extend to children (1B:1a) though, according to Karen Stanley, the Buddhist guide, suggests that karma isnt always about punishing someone (1:2) but could be a lesson. Preparing someone for their next life, with this lesson giving them knowledge or skills in some way. According to Dalai Lama, Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed and where individual and nations are free. Buddhism rejoices in the possibly of true freedom through Nirvana as something

inherent in human nature because it gets rid of the greed, hatred and delusions which are caused by social evils. 2.4 Christian Views on Slavery: First and foremost, the Church tells us to listen to our conscience, to be able to decide personally what is morally right or wrong. The Church calls this, a persons informed conscience. It is our conscience that tells us what is right and what is wrong and a person cant pretend to be ignorant with an informed conscience. (Father Jason, Appendix 3) Though the Church has many teachings of what a person should believe is right or wrong, it always comes down to the person to distinguish this personally. The issue of slavery is seen both morally and ethically wrong and many would agree with the Churchs view on this subject. Tina Thompson (2002), argued in her speech, A Christian Perspective on Sex Trafficking, that each person is created with inherent dignity. Modern Catholic tradition is opposed to anything that is opposed to life itself or violates the integrity of the human person and anything that insults their inherent dignity. Though, over the last eighteen centuries, slavery has been imposed in different forms. In the early years of Christianity, slavery was a normal feature of the economy and society throughout the Roman Empire and well into the Middle Ages. The issue of slavery and Christianity is one that has been intensely conflicted. The Bible sanctioned the regulated slavery in the Old Testament and whether or not the New Testament condemns or sanctioned slavery has been strongly disputed. Avery Robert Dulles holds the opinion that Jesus, though he repeatedly denounced sin as a kind of moral slavery, said not a word against slavery as a social institution. Many supported slavery in the ancient times, such as Saint Augustine whereas several figures, such as Saint Patrick, were opposed. (Newbrey, C, 1999) Father Jason answered, why have the views on slavery changed since then and now? (1A:3) which he answered, The Church had a high place in society in the past, where Popes and priests had children and wives and humanity was corrupted. Though, the Church accepts their mistakes in the past, because for then and there, the Church used the circumstances of the time to the best of their ability. Slaves were a common part of everyday life and were considered a normal living. Today, they know better and the Church says that it is morally wrong to hold a person against their will. The Church has made mistakes in the past, but it is these mistakes that has created the concrete foundation of the Churchs modern views and teachings, as they have learned from their mistakes. Christian modern views on slavery are that the trafficking and slavery of human beings are all grave violations of basic human rights. The trade in human persons constitutes a shocking offense against human dignity and grave violation of fundamental human rights. (Kralis, B, 2006) The Church believes that everyone is created in the image and likeliness of God, therefore each member of

the human family is equal in dignity and rights because we are all children to one God. Conclusion: The Buddhist and Christian religions have a similar background on slavery, as both of their teachings and scriptures didnt have a specific say on slavery. In the past years, slavery was a natural part of normal life though Buddhists liked to call their employees, servants instead of slaves. Though, in modern times Christians and Buddhists see slavery as immoral and unjust. Both religions have a familiar say in human rights and social justice, that all life has the rights to equality and safety. The Buddhist perspective on slavery is introspective and compassionate. While, Christians believe that slavery are grave violations of basic human rights Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom. (Tatu, D, 2012) Individual human rights are more likely to be safe when society as a whole is balanced and stable. For that to happen, everyone has to be aware of the issues and be able to express reasonable opinions about them. Recommendations/Reflections: The fight against slavery is too big for any single faith to take on. Instead, hopefully the worlds religions will understand this and come together in the common goal to stop slavery. The findings of this ethnographic investigation, I have learnt that people that disregard a persons human rights often result in barbarous acts against mankind. Everyone deserves the right to freedom of speech and the belief of freedom without fear. People should recognise and understand the inherent dignity and equality of a person. The improvement of this investigation could be that handing out surveys to random people to get their view on slavery and how it depraves people of certain rights would have been a good idea. Another improvement for this investigation would have been to try and ask more questions at the Buddhist temple to get a better understanding of their views. This study has made a tremendous affect on personal decision-making, as it shows that though peoples rights are constantly misused, everyone has the right to freedom and to not live in fear.