Saturday, October 10, 2009

Understanding how to Uphold Human Dignity

Note: This is an abbreviated version of the more egghead paper Model of Catholic Social Teaching which I wrote. I've written it here in more social terms than theological, and more general than specifically Catholic.

Human Dignity:
Every human being has a value beyond reckoning and has been given a unique gift that only they can share with the world. Our challenge is to strive to live up to our fullest potential AND to uphold the dignity of everyone else as well.

Human dignity is the goal and source of all that is best in humanity. Rather than humanity being an excuse for mediocrity, as in "I'm only human," We have to look beyond ourselves toward our creator if we hope to achieve our full human potential. We can not reach our full potential on our own.

Human dignity is like a three legged stool, held up by three legs. Each leg is equally necessary and required and it's only with all three legs fully present that human dignity is upheld. So, when it comes to any social action, we need to verify that all three legs are present as fully as possible. If not, we need to seek ways to have them all as fully present as possible. What are these three legs?

Common Good
The common good is the mutually shared responsibility of all individual people to corporately realize our full human potential as individuals.

Subsidiarity is the responsibility of individuals to realize the fullest potential of the smallest groupings, down to the family and individual, by placing ownership at the smallest feasible and practical level. Indeed, not only is it the responsibility of smaller groupings to claim and act upon their local authority, but it is the responsibility of larger groupings to encourage and support ownership at smaller levels as required.

Solidarity is the responsibility of individuals to realize that what happens to one effects all and thus to stand together, with our strongest helping support our weakest, that we might realize our fullest human potential.

 Of course it's important to note that none of these tests is black and white -- they are testing things using entirely subjective criteria. Why, then, use this model at all? Because it gives us a starting point for dialogue and it's far more common ground to start from than if we do not have it.

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Please seek to uphold the dignity of anyone mentioned in your post. Thank you!