Catholic Social Teaching is developed of both Sacred Scripture and the Natural Law custom. In the philosophical Natural Law, we have a vocabulary that tries to hold on reasons. To this the Natural law says and declares that all Human Beings have all have a broad spectrum of right and wrong. In fact, Thomas Aquinas reasons that “some goods are natural and evident to all”.
This uniqueness of nature is the groundwork of the liberties and privileges of every human individual. Although some countries don’t recognise these rights or privileges, these privileges are the dignity of a person from the moment of conception.
The dignity’s objective, derives from the origin in God and Creator, which extends to the spirituality of the soul which is an element key . Nobody can remove the spirituality of the soul, and everyone should have respect in others and in themselves. This spiritual element involves equal dignity and it lingers in each stage of in period of the personal human life.
Natural dignity is recognised in the order, as like Vatican II reminds us: “Furthermore, while there are rightful differences between people, their equal dignity as persons demands that we strive for fairer and more humain conditions”
Dignity is possessed by one who is a person or human, and therefore this is the distinction which animals differ from humans.
For this reason, what shall be left of humans if dignity is taken away from them?
In his Summa Teologica which was up to 2,000,000 words and still unfinished at the time of his death, Thomas Aquinas wrote:
“Is in order perfect himself in his specific order, the person must do good and avoid evil. The person must also be concerned for the transmission and preservation of life, refine and develop the richness of the material world, cultivate social life, seek truth, practise well and contemplate beauty”.
The natural law, is described, in so far, as natural right and in order for a human to achieve common good, one must have full esteem for human dignity. In the International Declarations we find the protection of ever human being’s dignity. It gives essence of the rights of men and the assurance of equality.
2 What is Humanity?
Humanity can be seen in many forms, forms which are opposite and conflicting which are put forward by many people. Humanity is also referred to as uncertainty and sorrow or distress and the Church shows it concern about these hitches, in fact the Church itself can propound a clarification by which the shape of humanity may be illustrated. The Church also explains the vulnerability and difficulty of humanity in a manner which the dignity and calling/vacation be professed in the divine, true light.
In the Sacred Scriptures we see that it illustrates how women and men were created “in the image of God” “What are women and men that you are mindful of them, their sons and daughters that you care for them? You have made them little less than angels, and crown them with glory and honour. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet” (Ps 8:5-8). 1
3 Of the dignity of human person and law
The essential nature of the fundamental right of the human person, and amongst them the primary right to life, seems to have always consisted of the fact that they can be neither conceded nor derogated by any human power. This is because these rights have their foundation not in an act of human will, but in the very nature and dignity of men.
The exact dignity of a human person is frequentlu recognizable by the various human cultures that brought the light of the fundamental rights of the Universal Declaration. In the porous of the declaration on reads: “the recognition of the personal dignity and the equal and alienable rights of all the members of the human family constitute the basis of freedom and peace in the world” and “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”
The dignity of a person is set out in many situations. Some Christian Anthropologists explain how a person seen in the image of God, possesses the dignity of a person and is to be respected and treated as a person from the very beginning of his conception till his death. For believers, an embryo has the dignity and the quality of a person, and it doesn’t need to have achieved certain skills to have dignity. These principles mentioned are all principles believed of course, by beleivers who beleive in the Church and most of all in Christ. So what non-believers believe and think about human dignity, is difficult to be elucidated.
Moral necessity also takes a major part in dignity as dignity is a unique excellence of values. For example – animals are killed for specific reasons – to be eaten by human beings, but if they are slaughtered or killed on order to take their fur for aesthetic purposes, then this goes against nature and the personal dignity forbids any such acts.
The world has become a dangerous place. This is a fact. Human dignity gets into place in many circumstances. Every time we switch on our televisions or our radios, all we hear are; terrorism which creates a vicious cycle of violence, abduction, war, poverty, cases of natural catastrophes and people turning out without homes, racism and daily needs. Another issue of human dignity may also be the emancipation of a person by a state. For a man to live in dignity, it is precisely necessary that society never again obtains as an abstraction over and above the social individual.
Even acts of inhuman and degradation especially in third world countries not to mention Sharia Laws in Iran, where women are put in shame, murdered brutally or worse are tortured, leaving a person partly inoperative. It is obvious that Human Dignity is not believed, thaught and exercised in every country, and in my opinion, lot of work among states, has to be finalised and put into effect, in order to stop these kinds of ridiculous atrocities.
Pope announced these words on the 16th February, 2010, regarding human dignity,using these immemorable words:
“Bioethical questions often throw light on the dignity of the person, a fundamental principle which faith in Jesus Christ, has always defended, especially when it is overlooked in dealings with the most simple and defenceless people”. “Bioethics, like any other discipline, needs guidelines capable of guaranteeing a coherent reading of the ethical questions which inevitably emerge when faced with possible conflicts of interpretation. In this space lies the normative call to natural moral law”.
“Recognising human dignity as an inalienable right has its first foundation in that law – unwritten by the hand of man but inscribed by God the Creator in man’s heart – which all juridical systems are called to recognise as inviolable, and all individuals to respect and promote. Without the basic principle of human dignity it would be difficult to find a wellspring for the rights of the person, and impossible to reach ethical judgements about those scientific advances which have a direct effect on human life”. 2
4 On Children and their learning
Education is a very important aspect of life. Education derives mostly from school although the surroundings of home takes a big part of it. Children like every human being, are not the same; every child is unique and distinctive, and so every child holds special qualities. During teaching in schools, there can be cases where the teacher, instead of being patient with a student and explains to him/her what the student is not understanding, the teacher mocks, criticizes etc.. the student. And so the child concerned undergoing this accusations and shalmless situation, is being deprived of his dignity.
This is shameless as the concerned child/student will feel ashamed, angry and shuts down his thinking because he may be blamed for being ignorant. If the child is repetitively called ignorant or other names, he/she will grow up thinking with the perspective he/she is ignorant.
When adults try to “teach” children by criticizing, lecturing, shaming, ridiculing, giving orders, screaming, threatening and hitting, it shuts down their thinking so they can’t learn what the adult intended to teach them to do or not to do; they can only record what is being modelled.” 3
According to Kant: “Dignity is due to those who are above all price, with no equivalent permitted”.
5 On Poverty
Quite interesting to note that about 34 million people in the USA, live below the poverty line, considering that USA is one of the richest countries in the world. What goes wrong the countries to create a large percentage of poverty? Researches and statistics show that there are three elements that the economy was sustained with, which are:
- the enormous increase in consumer debt,
- huge transfer of resources in the form of interest payments from debtor countries to Western Banks,
- and increase in military spending.
Unemployment is also a face to poverty, and which it also caused by over population. Poverty to a certain extent, takes away the human dignity as one does not have enough money to supply their children and themselves with food and the daily needs.
6 On Human Trafficking
In the case of Human Trafficking there is the Red Cross who tries to fight against it. Human trafficking victims most of the times do not consent or are not aware of what they will be going through, consequently falling into fraud, force and violence. Initially they are transported by means of land or marine means from all over the world, abducted or by means of deceit. It does not mean that humans are trafficked only for sexual exploitation and for the removal of organs but also for forced labour. In other words: “slavery”. Human trafficking victims most of the times do not consent or are not aware of what they will be going through. We also have modern slavery, where children work long hours and are prisoners to their employers, who enjoy their freedom.
Human trafficking takes away all human dignity in every sense and one feels so dirty that it is also an issue of suicide and depression.
7 On the Capital Punishment
In certain countries, like the U.S still apply the capital punishment. We humans fight so much for our life and dignity, so I say who are these people to be given the power to judge between life or death? A punishment is always a punishment when it is fair but a capital punishment is it a real adequate punishment? The answer as I see it is NO. And the reason is that I don’t see it a measure to kill someone who has killed someone else. This person who is going to be executed will not have the time enough to think profoundly about his sin/s and may not have the possibility to change his lifestyle and maybe live a better life than before. Moreover God taught us humans to forgive. I understand that the state cannot “forgive” but I truly believe that the state shall keep in mind every human’s dignity and punish every individual fairly.
Another reason I don’t agree, is the for the fact that some humans that undergo a capital punishment turned out later, which took also years, that they were innocent, let’s take for example the execution of Carlos DeLuna which took place in Texas in 1989. New evidence after DeLuna was executed showed profound doubt that he was innocent. And like DeLuna are many more others. It interesting to note that the number of persons who were punished by the capital death in 2007, were 53; the lowest number of executions in a decade.
Jesus said: “Let anyone among you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” (NRSV, John 8:7-11)
8 On Violence
Violence integrates and is associated with many crimes and human dignities. It can derive from terrorism, form human trafficking, and from many other aspects which is also needed in order for a human to survive.
I think that Violence is one of the most issues as an assault on Human Dignity. Violence is at different places. In several times it starts at home, and it can take forms of mental and physical. It can be at work and at school, which can fall in many common circumstances of bullying. An interesting fact is that violence is sometimes instigated by the media. To be more clear, a lot of children are exposed to the internet and television and most of the times the films and documentaries which are shown, contain in a way or another violence. Nowadays children no longer play in the streets and enjoy themselves with a small stuff but they are stuck to electronics. Funnily enough even a simple game of Playstation or a Computer Game is full of violence, and the more violence they contain, the happier and enthusiastic children become. Violence is a huge problem and the society, maybe without knowing, is instigating to bring along more violence and therefore less human dignity.
The fact is that violence surrounds us in our everyday life even in schools where lately we have heard of violent children who assaulted their teachers and even their schoolmates, one who ripped open an eye of another with a pencil.
And what can one say which is worse about the violence and hatred against the immigrants, and foreigners and persons with disability. Racism is also a major problem in which many people suffer because of violent attacks.
Contrary to what I said before that many violent acts are also derived from the media, the media in itself is a beneficiary source for showing violence throughout the world. With the help of media and their report, one can make a viewer feel some sensationalism.
In the Book “Violence” by Wolfgang Huber, he acknowledges equal dignity for all human beings and thus the respect for elementary human rights are inviolable principles of coexistence. Huber continues saying that in the Christian tradition and in the Jewish tradition, dignity of human beings is taken seriously only by those who respect the God-given equality of human beings.
9 On Racism
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”-Martin Luther King.
Such delicate words as spoken by Martin Luther King, from my aspect, he perfectly shows his anger, rage and at the same it symbolizes his heart breaking and love.
When Racism comes into act, and people are being racist towards other persons, it demonstrates that same people are not even in love with themselves. Explaining mysel when I say: “that people are not even in love with themselves”, because in order to start loving other persons which at the end are humans like each and every one of us, and show some concern about them, one must first learn to love themselves. It is hideous and strange, to see around us, families who adopt pets, and takes care of them, and then on the other hand, they can’t even try to love nd help other humans!
Racism can be labelled as domination, tyrannical, intolerance, discrimination, unfairness, and violence killings against other persons, or groups. Racism can be found in every country of the world, and it may start in schools. Although we live in 2011 and we are supposed to live in a socialised world and although our schools have developed and acheived better quality education, still the battle against Racism, seems to not have taken progress. The world is supposed to be working to reach a well balance congruent and harmonious humanity.
The problem in Racism is vast, as many people do not only judge other humans on their apperance like skin clour, but also from the respective country they are coming from concerning also different religions and way of living.
It is quite interesting in the History of racism, as it originates from people that were sold as slaves. Thse slaves were called so and were sold because they were of black colour. The period of 1619 till 1865, was a period when the Africana who lived in American were sold as slaves. They vere exposed to a lot of brutality and were not considered as human beings, but as an object and were forced to carry out forced labour. Every human has the right to participate in the community and trying to look for the common good. 4
Racism troops originates from the time of the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War which was led by General Nathaniel Bedford Forrest. The aim of these groups were to threaten and intimidate slaves. The Ku Klux Klan were also known and remembered for the burning of the crosses and their violence against the slaves. It is said that today the members of the KKK are millions.
Each and every one of us, in order to help defeat racism, should speak and integrate, in order to learn from a person who is suffering from racism.
10 On Employment
All Human Beings have the right to work! All human beings who are employed shall have a fair wage and are in addition of social benefits. We know that Jesus spent all of his life working, and this helps us understand that a person shall be respected for who she is and not for the work she carries out or the position she has.
At work places arises a lot of problems which goes against human dignity like bullying. Bullying could lead to a serious and frightful situation and consequences. This can lead to a great decrease in self-confidence. The dignities’ aim at work is to guarantee a working bond where everyone s treated with respect and dignity.
Another problem which arises at work is the problem of migrants that are explicitly being abused by working very long hours and are not paid enough like every other employee, just because they are immigrants and are of dark colour. These people and many other people in other countries have also lack of policies and insufficient legislation, and apart from racism, this is discrimination.
And I ask: “Do the authorities know about this major problem, and what are they doing in order o help improve the situation?”
11 So what can one do in order to help in achieving better conditions of human dignity?
The protection of human dignity is not a non figurative concept. The Red Cross movement is an emergency response unit that takes immediate and physical action, and engages in long term initiatives to promote sustainable development. The human ability to prevent human dignity is nowadays at hazard and requires a lot of efforts.
Those who want to reveal human dignity must start to search too exist together at the same tme and in the same. This can not only bring to the agreement with the freedom of every individual but that also helps to unfold their freedom. I humbly believe that every human being has a dignity, and every human being should be respected and protected, as Human Dignity exactly means that every person deserves respect because every step of human life is precious and is worthy of having respect and protection and if a person is taken from him the right to life, the dignity automatically is taken away from him.
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