together we are human
we all come and go the same
so let us walk together
in the kinship that we came”
The City of Thunder Bay is embracing and promoting Respect, an initiative developed and practiced by students and staff at Confederation College. With their recently launched video, I Am Only Human, Thunder Bay is driving home the message that everyone is human and simply because we have that to relate to, we all deserve respect on the basis of human dignity.
When we think about the ways in which humans should live, the concept of human dignity seems critical to the essence of human life. Dignity and respect are crucial to developing feelings of self-worth and have recently been identified as a fundamental component of social justice and human rights (Trudeau Foundation, 2012).
A large part of being able to promote dignity within communities is being able to foster relationships, which promote understanding and compassion because “ultimately, our own dignity is interdependent with the dignity of others” (Global Dignity Day).
“Fundamentally, dignity matters because it forms the foundation of civilized society; without it, serious abuse of people is more likely to occur” (US National Library of Medicine). It is when others are stripped of their dignity that we are able to see them as ‘less than’, creating a space in which inequality, discrimination, and intolerance are able to exist.
However, focusing on encouraging situations where people are able to relate and identify similarities amongst each other creates feelings of kinship and human connection, which allow dignity to flourish. In fact, as Rodolofo Mendoza Denton, Associate Professor of Psychology at UC Berkley, asserts, “If you looked at all of the solutions proposed by scientists over the years to combat prejudice and racism, you’d be hard pressed to find a more effective antidote than friendship.”
Social connection enables individuals and communities to see that “we are all human” and ensures that everyone’s rights are valued and respected. Research also shows that acts of kindness can inspire others and come full circle, making compassionate people more receptive to social support (Dignity Health). This receptiveness strengthens community resilience and allows individuals to live a dignified life and fulfill their full potential.
With Global Dignity Day quickly approaching, there is no better time to highlight the power of coming together to promote respect and acceptance.