Perspectives on Dignity

In preparation for the year's Ikeda Forum, "Dignity of Life: The Heart of Human Rights and Peace Building," happening Saturday, September 27, we have selected a few resources from our site that address different dimensions of this essential quality.

Core Conviction No. 4: Respect for human dignity and the sanctity of life provide a baseline ethical standard.

This fundamental standard has far-reaching implications. How much damaging behavior depends on a denial of the inviolable integrity of persons and our planet? To name just two examples, widespread reports of torture and stark evidence of environmental catastrophes indicate that human dignity and the sanctity of life do not figure as strongly in our calculations as they must.
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Education: Vito Perrone on teaching for peace and social justice

"Even in countries like ours, the economic disparities are growing, poverty is a way of life for too many, educational opportunities are far from equal, homelessness is all around us, and hatreds remain potent. Our need in the years ahead, certainly in the coming century, is to make a break with those habits of mind, beliefs, and actions that have permitted such conditions to exist, that have left us as individuals and societies so impoverished morally, lacking the will and capacity it seems to imagine other, more equitable, more powerful, more generous possibilities."
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Diversity: Daisaku Ikeda on the flowering of the greater self

"If we dig deep enough within the great earth of each person’s life, we find flowing there the same underground channels of empathy and compassion. This source gives rise to an immense range of human diversity, in which each of us is endowed equally with a unique role and purpose in this symphony of life. Our struggle to return to this source is thus central to bringing about a genuine renaissance for all people."
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Economics: Chandra Muzaffar looks beyond private gain

"An economy that recognizes interdependence and interconnectedness as guiding principles will have to function on a basis that is very different from the present global system. It will have to seek inspiration from the Confucian maxim: "In order to establish ourselves, we must help others to establish themselves; in order to enlarge ourselves, we have to help others to enlarge themselves." This is explicit acknowledgement of the importance of assisting others. Indeed, assisting others becomes the prerequisite for ensuring one's own well-being. It shows how we are all connected to, and dependent upon, one another."
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Mortality: Pam Kircher on the humanizing impact of hospice care

"I have spent a lot of time with people who are close to death and with the loved ones who are around those people who are dying. What I’ve learned is that when we are dying, we generally are not concerned with how much money we have made. We’re generally not concerned about the degrees we have and the stuff we own. What we care about is the relationships we have. We ask ourselves: Have we done forgiveness? Have we been loving? When this becomes the theme of everyone, or at least the theme of the majority, I see our country changing enormously."
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Poetry: Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese"

[excerpt]

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

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