Monday, July 14, 2008

Human Dignity

I don't believe that anyone is born without a healthy way of seeing ourselves and all others as having intrinsic worthiness. Hanging upside down and nude in a room full of people and getting smacked on your rear may not be the best way to start things off. For those of us who were circumcised, I'm thinking that wasn't a real confidence builder either.

Throughout our lives, how we are treated and how we are taught to view ourselves and others in terms of many unnecessary and unreasonable comparisons of worth shapes our self image. How what we are provided with by nature in the beginning of our lives is nurtured will make a dramatic impact on our abilities and equally or more important our self image by which we express those abilities.

Wikipedia defines human dignity as it relates to human rights (which is how I'm referring to it in this post) this way:

When this concept is associated with the adjective "human", it is used to signify that all human beings possess intrinsic worthiness and deserve unconditional respect, regardless of age, sex, health status, social or ethnic origin, political ideas, religion, or criminal history. If violated, this can be considered discrimination. In other words, this respect is owed to every individual by the mere fact that he or she is a "member of the human family" (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Preamble). This intrinsic worthiness is widely recognized by international law as the source of all human rights. In this respect, both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) of 1966 affirm that human rights “derive from the inherent dignity of the human person”.

There are few things that I believe more strongly than the human rights that “derive from the inherent dignity of the human person” of everyone (and especially autistic people) is too often discouraged and that there is a fundamental and very needed change for how all (and especially autistic people) are seen that will best create and provide for the respect of our human rights.

I have not seen or experienced autistic people being mistreated in less than extreme ways and extreme changes are needed. Watered down neutral views toward extreme violations of human rights is a sharp sword that people too often fall on.

I believe that many societal views of human worth are too often based on what someone can provide in the way of financial support, by way of social and networking skills, and by way of breeding stock. When someone is thought of as not being a good provider in these areas or not likely to be able to gain a lot of ability in these areas, they are more likely to be provided with fewer human rights.

If autistics fall into any or all of these categories (as some of us do) the view of our value is lessened and how we are then treated follows. First of all, fewer people need to be seen this way because too much of too many peoples potential is being wasted. Also, this system that devalues the view of peoples worth needs to change for every ones sake. We all deserve better.

When people are placed in poor housing and human warehouses, human dignity is the most valuable resource and the most difficult to attain. Financial means, education, and training can have a big effect on turning this problem around but not until people change their attitudes about people who are caught up in the cycle.

It seems to me that sometimes people look at others with what are considered the fewest tangible resources as victims of their own ignorance. It's too often thought that such people have so many personal issues that they can't be accessed on a personal level by others.

I'm not saying that such a view is not based in any kind of reality . I think that the number of relationship dynamics that divide people that have resources from others who don't would naturally seem overwhelming to both groups. What I am saying is that there is a cyclic dynamic involved that isn't necessary. Whatever combination of struggles someone has had relating to both internal conflict and unreasonable circumstances has a multitude of layers of what they have become that makes the judgment by others as to why someone is where they are to be impractical, silly, and often mean.

When society starts seeing populations of people as lacking intrinsic value and being disposable, every human trait is devalued and all humans with more resources along with others with less are devalued.

I think the view that resources of caring and providing human dignity for others being limited is the most limiting view of all. Re-creating self respect, providing, and securing more people with human dignity can solve many problems associated with all people lacking many other resources.

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At 12:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post, Ed.

This issue is of such core importance, and yet so often ignored.

People are often caught up in the inherent struggle of maintaining their own worth and trying to meet their own needs, that ignoring the needs and values of others becomes a side affect of which folks can become oblivious.

We all suffer when we apply an attitude of scarcity.

We all benefit through generocity and appreciation!


At 5:05 AM , Blogger Ed said...

Thanks JD,

That's a good summary of what I was wanting to communicate. You said it very well within fewer words.


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