Posts Tagged ‘Human Dignity’

Pregnant with Potential

“Moments of genuinely unlimited potential, when the only thing that matters is what happens next, are extremely rare.” — Kirk Johnson, “to the EDGE”, photo insert

I wholeheartedly disagree. Every moment of every life is compellingly pregnant with the fullness of our human potential, and the only thing that matters is what whether we see it and what we choose to do about it.

No matter my station now, in this moment, God has me here for a reason. My one and only calling is to connect with my God-given passions and take one step forward toward fulfilling the depth and breadth of my potential breathed into my clay by God at the moment of my conception. That’s true whether I’m preparing to change a diaper, eat a meal, run a trail, or breathe my last breath. My potential is defined, limited, yet far beyond anything I yet imagine. So is yours.

May God startle you with joy!


How to uphold the Dignity of the Tarahumara (Rarámuri) — and all of us?

10-22-09 Update: there is a newly created site here to help support the Rarámuri.
We, and far more critically our brothers and sisters the Rarámuri, live at a cross roads. Why would I so arrogantly place myself, living rather comfortably far from the Copper Canyons, among those effected by the crossroads the Rarámuri face? Perhaps I’m out of place, but I do so because what effects one of us effects us all. That’s the notion of solidarity. We are in this together. Even when it looks like we aren’t. Solidarity is one of the four permanent principles of Catholic social teaching. It offers every one of us a starting place for asking the question, how do we uphold the dignity of the Tarahumara?

To learn of the Tarahumara, I highly recommend reading two things. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and this article in NatGeo.

To learn of the four permanent principles of Catholic social teaching, I recommend reading this post. If you really want to dive in, take a look at the Model of Catholic Social Teaching. (I wrote it and it’s a bit of wandering egghead, but it will get you through the ideas and principles needed here). While the concepts are explicitly Catholic, they are universal (the meaning of catholic), and speak to the natural law we all share and are bound by.

The Tarahumara face the centuries old challenge of what happens when one culture collides with another. The typical pattern is some form of slavery, impoverishment, and loss of self reliance. It appears that is much the way things are headed for the Tarahumara now, with numerious pressures, legal and illegal, pressing in on them. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There is an answer. It’s one we may have heard and perhaps discarded. Or the idea that follows that one. Or it’s one yet to be thought. But in the end, it will be an idea that meets the rigorous tests of upholding the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity and thus upholding human dignity — the dignity of all involved. Find that answer and we achieve something far more human than what is happening now.

The current proposal of tourism development clearly undermines human dignity, violating the principles of the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity (the encroaching roads can be argued to have done the same.

A proposal:
The first and most obvious idea is that the Mexican government declare the Copper Canyon a national treasure and the ancestral lands of the Rarámuri, giving it to them to manage, as they have done for centuries already. If they want tourism, let them do it their way. But it’s not a reservation — it’s like a free and independent state. Government aid would have to be very carefully considered, as experience in the US shows us it creates a cycle of dependance that also undermines human dignity (see most if not all current reservations to see this cycle in action — no people receive more government aid).

I’m guessing based on the very limited info I have on the Tarahumara, but their economy is based on korima: the trading of favors. Could that not happen on a societal level?

How does this proposal pass the tests?
It appears to pass the tests of upholding the Common Good.

Subsidiarity. We have to know what the Rarámuri think. If they approve the idea then we can continue in examine if it passes Subsidiarity (it appears to, as Governments role is limited only to protecting the fundamental rights of the Rarámuri).

Solidarity. This proposal appears to pass the test of Solidarity.

It seems to me we need a dialogue between and amongst the Tarahumara, the people surrounding them, including the Jesuit priests serving them, and others to learn more fully the situation and what is needed. The internet seems a perfect tool for such a fool-hearty endeavor.

What needs to happen to both refine and implement this proposal? Or is it as ill considered as the current, tourism proposal? Should it be tossed aside and we enter and facilitate dialogue with the people directly impacted? Input and action from you is needed. Please leave any ideas in the comments box.

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.

Deacon Patrick’s Round the World Progress

Deacon Patrick's Round the World Progress