—Improving our world by learning to preserve dignity for all people
Learning these simple lessons can profoundly improve our world. However, this may be difficult to understand, accept, and act on.
We are each born with dignity
We are charged to live well by the bare fact of our existence as self-conscious creatures with lives to lead. 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.
- Dignity is the quality of worth and honor intrinsic to every person. You are worthy simply because you exist.
- If I am so worthy, then why do I sometimes feel so worthless?
- Dignity establishes basic entitlements that are the unalienable birthright of every human. It is our intrinsic legitimacy. Dignity is the threshold level of status required to meet basic human needs. It establishes the basic boundaries of humanity.
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
- 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
- Indignity—trespassing into the territory established by dignity—is the essence of insult, humiliation, and the root of anger, shame, and hate.
- This trespass is the basic tool of tyranny, oppression, and coercion.
- All of history is the quest for dignity.
- We are worthy simply because we are alive; it is a cruel injustice to deny someone their inalienable worth.
- Dignity is congruence between the respect we demonstrate and the intrinsic legitimacy of each person.
- When honor requires adherence to an archaic honor culture, it can abridge human rights.
- Complete the assignment described within the history page, above.
- Determine if you are influenced by adherence to an archaic honor culture. Work to separate yourself from any behaviors that abridge human rights.
Preserving Human Rights Maximizes Our Well-Being
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
- Preserve and respect the dignity of all people.
- Preserve and protect the human rights of all people.
- Do not tolerate actions or inactions that disrespect others, or infringe on human rights.
- Increase your empathy and compassion for all.
- Quell your ego.
- Learn to transcend conflict, forgive, and apologize.
- Increase your emotional competency.
- Embrace the Golden Rule and the Charter for Compassion.
- Practice sustainability—meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs—to respect the needs of future generations.
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
- 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.
- Keep the Four Agreements.
- 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?
Use these resources to continue your study of dignity:
- Dignity, TEDx talk, February 2011
- There are no scraps of men, TED talk, Alberto Cairo, November 2011
- Hicks, Donna (January 29, 2013). Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict. Yale University Press. p. 240. ISBN 978-0300188059.
- The Wikiversity course Assessing Human Rights