Dignity for all is so much more than a platitude or a political statement; it is a
moral compass to guide and evaluate our social and political priorities. The
English word dignity comes from the Latin word dignitas, which means
“worthiness.” Dignity implies that each person is worthy of honor and respect for
who they are, not just for what they can do. In other words, dignity cannot be
earned or taken away. As the Universal Declaration for Human Rights puts it,
“Recognition of the inherent dignity … of all members of the human family is the
foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.” Every person and every
sector of society has indispensable roles to play in achieving such a world.
In the Beloved Community, every person’s dignity is seen and matters, no matter where
they are born or where they live. Isaiah 65, one of my favorite passages of
scripture, provides a poignant glimpse of what a world honoring dignity for all
looks like. The prophet proclaims the word of God:
I’m creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos,
and pain are things of the past. To be forgotten. Look ahead with joy … No
more sounds of weeping in the city, no cries of anguish; No more babies
dying in the cradle, or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime.
One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal—anything less will seem like
a cheat. They’ll build houses and move in. They’ll plant fields and eat
what they grow … For my people will be long-lived as trees, my chosen ones
will have satisfaction in their work. They won’t work and have nothing come
of it … For they themselves are plantings by God, with their children and
grandchildren likewise God-blessed.
Through the Sustainable Development Goals, global institutions such as the
United Nations and the World Bank, as well as global leaders from nearly every
country in the world, have embraced human dignity as a central value and
priority. The question now is whether we will work together to turn these words
into deeds to co-create a radically more just, healthy, and sustainable world, a
world of Beloved Community.
The words of Adam Russell Taylor.