Cultural diversity, Equality, Human dignity, Human Rights, Justice, Leadership, Personal Development, Perspective

Two man-mindedness

Yesterday I suggested that cultivating the classical virtues of Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude and Justice might go a long way toward promoting peaceful co-existence between people. Today I’d like to promote another classical virtue; Ren. While yesterday’s virtues can be traced back to ancient Greek and Rome, today’s comes from China.
The Chinese character, Ren looks like this in Mandarin – 仁. The character represents a human being with two strokes indicating two people; you and me. The concept has to do with a person trying to see things from her own perspective and simultaneously from another’s perspective; two man-mindedness. In modern day language, empathy. But two man-mindedness goes a step further than empathy; feeling another’s pain or emotions. It also entails being fully in tune with one’s own emotions at the same time.
The Confucian philosopher, PC Chang introduced this concept to the United Nations Human Rights committee tasked with the job of writing a document that would delineate the normative structure of Human Rights; what would become the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He proposed that the idea of two man-mindedness was a Confucian way of looking at the underlying principle of all Human Rights, namely Human Dignity.
So, along with the classical cardinal virtues from yesterday, I propose that cultivating, Ren, or two man-mindedness could be a useful tool for helping us all to get along better :-).


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