Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Human dignity

I'd like to share two scenes from The Human Experience that have been on my mind the past two days.
At one point the two brothers are living homeless in New York City and they meet this homeless woman who describes what her life is like. She tells them that when she first started living on the streets there were a bunch of dogs running around loose and people freaked out and made phone calls and did everything they could to take care of these dogs but here she was, a fellow human being, standing in the cold, and no one did anything for her.
In another scene, after the crew has met with lepers in Ghana, one of the guys says how back in New York he used to freak out if he had a zit because of what people would think of him, yet here were these lepers, completely disfigured but still happy. Talk about putting things in perspective.
I never thought about it before but the power of human dignity speaks for itself in these 'hopeless' people. Think about those who suffered in concentration camps during WWII, what motivation could they have had to keep living? How can horribly disfigured lepers even want to keep living? People will do almost anything to preserve their lives, why? Because deep within all of us, whether we recognize it or not, is a profound respect for human life. The problem is this respect for human life is too often self-centered, as is the case with abortion. You often here people say that 'pro-choicers' don't respect life. That's not true; I guarantee you they respect some life, namely their own. And there isn't anything wrong with that, but how is it that we respect some life but not all? How do we help others to respect all life "from conception to natural death"? I think we have to 'rediscover' what it means to be human. I say rediscover because the definition has not changed since Adam and Eve, and we are not in a position to change it. We have to help the world return to its roots and the proper meaning of humanity.
People who have been put in hellish situations yet desire to still live understand what it means to be human. They've seen that human dignity is not something we earn or something external to us; its universal. No matter who you are or what you look like or what you've been through, know that you have dignity which no one can take away.


Laura said...

Welcome, Marcus, to the land of bloghood. Your mom gave me the link here and I like what I see. In regards to this post on Human Dignity, I'd like to recommend a book to you called "Left to Tell". If you haven't read it yet, it is about a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. I've done a review of this book as well as her second book, "Led by Faith" on my blog. I will be reviewing her third book "Our Lady of Kibeho" later this week. If you've not read any of them, I would highly recommend them.
God Bless!

Marcus Toft said...

Thank you for the recommendations! This is one of those things that I really took for granted before but now that my eyes have been opened I'd love to delve deeper into it.