The profound pearls of wisdom found in the Bible, the Koran, and the teachings of Buddha underscore the paramount importance of human dignity. The book of Genesis eloquently expresses that human dignity emanates from divinity itself. Each human life is deemed sacred, symbolizing an embodiment of God’s presence among us. Shomali (2017) asserts that Islamic traditions reveal principles, ethics, and guidelines dedicated to upholding human dignity, while Ikeda (2006) highlights in Buddhism a fundamental guiding principle of deep concern and unwavering commitment to respecting both individual and inherent dignity in all of life. In Judaism, it’s affirmed that human rights trace back to the fundamental idea of humans created in the image of God, establishing not only a right to dignity and freedom but also their responsibility to safeguard them.

No one possesses the power to strip away our dignity.

Life is an intricate tapestry woven with threads of joy and suffering. Throughout our journeys, we may encounter moments of profound woundedness and brokenness as others attempt to inflict harm upon us and dismantle what we cherish. It’s crucial to remember that no one possesses the power to strip away our intrinsic worth, identity, and dignity. Regardless of the trials we face, our inherent value remains inviolable. Dr. Edith Eger (2017), a Holocaust survivor, poignantly recalls her mother’s words in the cattle car to Auschwitz: “No one can take away from you what you put here in your own mind.” Eger goes on to say, “I am a human being who went through an experience. It’s not my identity. It’s not who I am. It’s what was done to me.” Dignity is woven into Eger’s inspiring messages.

Resilient Individuals maintain their dignity and the dignity of others.

Being a dignified individual is intrinsically linked to resilience. Resilient, dignified individuals weave compassion and empathy into their lives, even in moments of pain and disillusionment. Resilience includes acknowledging historical and present trauma. They nurture well-being through wellness practices and surround themselves with individuals who uplift and treat them with respect and dignity. When they disagree with others, they remember to maintain their dignity and the dignity of the other person. As human beings, they strive for this goal but may fail, even with the best intentions. For example, in the heat of an argument, a person may lose their footing and treat another with a lack of respect and dignity. If this happens, a person striving to be dignified and respectful will seek to repair what has transpired, asking for forgiveness.

How do we nurture our humanity when faced with inhumanity?

A challenge for all who seek peaceful resolutions is that there may be people we encounter who do not treat others with dignity or respect. The question then becomes, “How do we nurture our humanity when faced with inhumanity?” The horrors of terrorism and war mercilessly uproot human dignity from its foundational principles. In recent months, as a global community, we have witnessed both the darkest and most encouraging facets of human behavior. In 2023, Lesley Carroll, a Presbyterian Minister from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who has dedicated a significant portion of her life to the pursuit of peace, offered a crucial insight. She emphasized there is always an enduring presence of individuals and groups tirelessly committed to fostering peace amidst turmoil.

New Ground is a brighter side of humanity.

When we embrace the profound value of every individual, we lay the essential groundwork for mutual respect and acknowledgment of our shared humanity. The brighter side of humanity that has emerged in recent times is exemplified by initiatives such as New Ground, a remarkable group based in Los Angeles. New Ground envisions an America in which Muslims and Jews are not only encouraged but empowered to establish enduring partnerships, engage in authentic communication, and collaborate mutually towards lasting peace—a fundamental step towards harmonious coexistence.

Even in the face of tragic events, there exists a glimmer of hope in organizations like New Ground. They attest to being a dynamic model of engagement, unburdened by historical grievance, theological difference, or political entanglement. Their work underscores the belief that while conflict may be unavoidable, it need not be insurmountable.

We can cultivate our own wellspring of dignity and respect.

When we cannot find humanity in the words or the actions of others, we can cultivate our own wellspring of dignity and respect and not revenge. When we approach others with an earnest desire to comprehend divergent viewpoints, we possess the potential to facilitate peaceful coexistence. Ultimately, the experiences in our lives can bestow upon us a profound sense of purpose, igniting a passionate drive to extend a helping hand to those who are suffering. Our struggles can metamorphose into our greatest source of strength, becoming a wellspring of hope for those who may have lost their way. When we treat others with dignity and respect, we possess the power to be a part of transformative change in the world.