It is quite encouraging that the number of patients in India has now come down. That is good news. Wonderful. But on the topic of lingering discrimination, there is still much that needs to be done. It is not good that people continue to be discriminated against even after they are cured. These things are social habits. We must change them. In order to effect change, we must make an effort.
Religious leaders have an important role. They need to speak out and reassure their followers that people affected by leprosy pose no threat and that there is no reason for them to be isolated.
If society rejects a person affected by leprosy, then society is losing one member of society. The seven billion human
beings on the earth are essentially brothers and sisters. We are born the same way and we die the same way. Everyone wants a happy life and has the right to achieve a happy life. We are social animals. Each individual’s maximum happiness remains within society as a member of the community. Any social animal, one single being, when separated from the community of the group, is unhappy.It is important for people affected by leprosy to be accepted by the rest of society as part of the human family. That is the human way, and spiritually speaking also, it is a real act of compassion.
While people are always talking about love and compassion, these sentiments are often betrayed by wrongful discrimination. People of religious faith must live according to what they profess. Even those who do not believe must, as members of the seven billion-strong human community, must reach out to every other human being. At a human level, it is, I think, a really important practice of secular ethics.
Over the years the Goodwill Ambassador Yohei Sasakawa has developed a close friendship with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. His Holiness has twice endorsed the annual Global Appeal to End Stigma and Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy initiated by Sasakawa in 2006, His Holiness and Sasakawa visited the Tahirpur Leprosy Complex in New Delhi together in 2014. In this article from 2012, the Goodwill Ambassador recalls a
meeting with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, when the Dalai Lama told him: “If society rejects a person
affected by leprosy, then society is losing one member of society.”（Oct, 2012）