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—Improving our world by learning to preserve dignity for all people

Grace photograph by Eric Enstrom 1918.

Dignity elicits feelings of “I matter” or “I am worthy”.

Learning these simple lessons can profoundly improve our world. However, this may be difficult to understand, accept, and act on.

This curriculum was inspired by the work of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Network and is part of the Applied Wisdom Curriculum.

We are each born with dignity[edit | edit source]

Completion status: this resource is considered to be complete.
Attribution: User lbeaumont created this resource and is actively using it. Please coordinate future development with this user if possible.

We are charged to live well by the bare fact of our existence as self-conscious creatures with lives to lead.[1] Dignity is accepting our responsibility to live our lives well. Living well entails both self-respect and authenticity. Self-respect requires us to care about how we live; we recognize the importance of living well. Authenticity requires us to take personal responsibility for the choices we make, to choose our own values and goals, and to decide how to live our lives.

Assignment: Describe how you experience dignity in your own life. Describe what you perceive as its source or origins. Describe an occasion where your dignity was abridged or assaulted. Describe what happened and what that felt like (i.e. your emotional response to the event). Describe the conditions in your life that allow dignity to flourish, or that prevent you from fully experiencing your own dignity. If you would like feedback on the paper or blog post you write to complete this assignment, please click here to send me an email.

Human Rights Preserve Our Dignity[edit | edit source]

  • All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has stated in clear and simple terms the rights which belong equally to every person.
  • These rights belong to you.
  • Read your rights at: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights web page.
  • They are your rights.
  • Familiarize yourself with them.
  • Help to promote and defend them for yourself as well as for your fellow human beings.

Assignment: Use this questionnaire to assess the level of human rights in your region. Based on your responses to the questionnaire, identify the primary impediments to human rights in your region. Imagine living in a different region, where human rights are either better protected (if you live in an oppressed region) or where they are denied (if you are fortunate to live in a region with good human rights protections). Complete the questionnaire as if you are living in that other region. Based on the questionnaire responses, and the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights what action would be most effective in improving human rights in the oppressed region?

Abridging Human Rights Causes Suffering[edit | edit source]


Preserving Human Rights Maximizes Our Well-Being[edit | edit source]

Preserving and protecting human rights reduces human suffering, reduces conflict, increases economic, social, and cultural opportunity, and increases the peace dividend. It is the symmetrical and stable configuration for humanity. We all benefit.

Assignment: Identify and describe a situation where indignity prevails. Describe the costs of this indignity in human, social, cultural, and economic terms. Summarize the total cost of indignity for this situation.

Work to Protect and Preserve Human Rights for All People[edit | edit source]

Assignment: Identify and describe an occasion where one person or group intervened to protect the dignity or human rights of another. Describe the nature of the intervention and its effectiveness. Consider the points of view and experiences of both the victims and the interveners in both the short term and the long term. How did this intervention alter the relationship between the victims and the interveners in both the short term and the long term?

Don’t Surrender Your Human Rights[edit | edit source]

  • Recognize when your dignity and human rights are being infringed.
  • Rely on your wisdom to know what you can change and what you cannot change.
  • Rely on your courage to change what you can.
  • Accept and cope with those things you cannot change.
  • Recognize how taking responsibility for your own actions contributes to your own sense of dignity.
  • If you are the victim of oppression—within your family, workplace, community, or nation—it can be very difficult to attain these human rights for yourself. Perhaps this advice on Responding to Tyrants can suggest some options available to you.
  • Maintain the 3Rs of: Rights, Responsibility, and Resilience!

Assignment: Describe an occasion when your dignity was threatened or abridged. When and how did you recognize the infringement? How did you react? How did you respond or cope?

Resources[edit | edit source]

Use these resources to continue your study of dignity:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Dworkin, Ronald (May 3, 2011). Justice for Hedgehogs. Harvard University Press. pp. 521. ISBN 978-0674072251.  Chapter 9.