Dignity is Not Just a “Concept”

Picture 3. Dignity is not a concept

“How do we explain the ‘concept’ of human dignity to someone who does not understand or does not accept it?”

We can often hear from people who want to advocate human dignity the question: “How do we explain the ‘concept’ of human dignity to someone who does not understand or does not accept it?”

Thinking about the answer to this question, we need to recognize that human dignity can be a pale and often incomprehensible concept. That is, it is certainly such until we realize that human dignity is not just a “concept”. It is not just something abstract, an ideological concept or theory that then someone should advocate in opposition to other theories for the sake of intellectual discussion. Human dignity is a concrete reality, and as with every concrete, we can know and understand it only by experiencing its reality.

Similar to other deep realities, on the rational level one can doubt them until they are experienced. Even more, skepticism is a natural rational attitude towards that what we have not experienced, by ourselves or from others. It is impossible not to question such demanding realities like “true love”, “sincere friendship” or “human dignity”, if nowhere we could witness them and convince ourselves of their existence. Once we experience some of these things, because of the depth and intensity of the experience, we become sure of their existence and can argue for them with reason, since we perceive the way they fit into and help make sense of reality.

One can fully understand what he lives (even if it is lived only in traces). So if someone wishes to explain human dignity to someone, he must first bring him to experience of that dignity in his own life and help him to reflect on it.

Even though man has a value in himself, regardless of whether it as admitted to him by others or not, he nevertheless comes to know that value only in direct relation with the other in which the other infinitely affirms his dignity.

However, this relationship is not just any relationship. It is a specific “I-Thou” relationship (as it is called by Martin Buber), the relationship without masks, face to face, with complete openness towards the other and with a desire to achieve his good. In this relationship I recognize the other as a person, a specific type of being that contains an inalienable perfection; and others alike recognize me. Reflecting myself this way in the other, at the same time I recognize myself as a person with an inalienable value and depth. Experience of such a relationship mankind has always had and gave it the name of love or a true friendship.

Of course, awareness and understanding of this relationship grows and deepens, but understanding was always preceded by an experience of these realities.

Therefore, one way to “explain” to someone what human dignity is means to come before him without any masks and defenses, disarmed, and to honestly look him in the face, living on my face and in my life the dignity that he carries within him. By loving the other and being his sincere friend, we bring him to the experience of reality called human dignity. Without this step, the story of human dignity remains just a mere concept, an abstract idea without a real fundament. With this step, “explaining” human dignity becomes a joyful search for truth in a common dialogue.

So, since dignity is not just a concept, live it before you promote it!

Dostojanstvo nije „koncept“

Često od ljudi koji žele zagovarati ljudsko dostojanstvo možemo čuti pitanje: „Kako objasniti „koncept“ ljudskog dostojanstva nekome tko ga ne razumije ili ne prihvaća?“

Razmišljajući o odgovoru na ovo pitanje, zaista moramo priznati da ljudsko dostojanstvo može biti vrlo blijed i često nerazumljiv koncept. To jest, takav je sasvim sigurno sve dok ne shvatimo da ljudsko dostojanstvo uopće nije „koncept“

Dapače, ljudsko dostojanstvo nipošto nije nešto apstraktno, neka idejna koncepcija ili teorija koju bi onda netko trebao zagovarati nasuprot drugim teorijama. Ljudsko dostojanstvo je najkonkretnija realnost i kao svaku konkretnost možemo ga spoznati i razumjeti jedino otkrivajući ga u iskustvu stvarnosti.

Slično kao i s drugim najdubljim stvarnostima, na razumskoj razini čovjek može u njih sumnjati sve dok ih ne iskusi i ne doživi u vlastitom životu. Čak štoviše, skepticizam je prirodni razumski stav spram onoga što nismo ni na koji način iskusili u stvarnosti, kod sebe ili kod drugih. Nemoguće je ne sumnjati u tako „zahtjevne“ stvarnosti poput „prave ljubavi“, „iskrenog prijateljstva“ ili „ljudskog dostojanstva“, ako se nigdje nismo mogli osvjedočiti o njihovom postojanju. Upravo doživljavanjem neke od ovih stvari, zbog dubine i intenziteta tog iskustva, mi postajemo sigurni u njihovo postojanje i argumentiramo ih razumom.

Čovjek može razumjeti samo ono što živi (pa makar to živio tek u tragovima). Dakle, da bi netko nekome mogao objasniti ljudsko dostojanstvo, on ga prvo mora dovesti do iskustva tog dostojanstva u njegovom vlastitom životu.

Vidimo da iako čovjek posjeduje vrijednost u sebi neovisno o tome priznali mu to drugi ili ne, on ipak tu svoju vrijednost otkriva samo u neposrednom odnosu s drugim u kojem taj drugi beskrajno afirmira njegovo dostojanstvo.

No, taj odnos nije bilo kakav odnos. To je specifičan „Ja-Ti“ odnos (kako ga naziva Martin Buber), odnos bez maski, licem u lice, s potpunom otvorenošću spram drugoga i željom za njegovim dobrom. U takvom odnosu ja prepoznajem drugoga kao osobu, specifičnu vrstu bića koja sadrži neku neotuđivu savršenost; i drugi na isti način prepoznaje mene. Ogledajući se tako u drugome, ja istovremeno prepoznajem sebe kao osobu s neotuđivom vrijednošću i dubinom. Iskustvo takvog odnosa čovječanstvo je oduvijek imalo i dalo mu ime: ljubav ili iskreno prijateljstvo.

Naravno, svijest i razumijevanje tog odnosa su rasli i produbljivali se, ali razumijevanju je uvijek prethodilo iskustvo stvarnosti.

Dakle, objasniti nekom ljudsko dostojanstvo znači stupiti pred njega bez ikakvih maski i obrana, razoružati se i iskreno ga gledati u lice, živeći na svom licu i u svom životu dostojanstvo koje on nosi u sebi. Ljubeći drugoga i bivajući mu iskrenim prijateljem, mi ga dovodimo do iskustva stvarnosti nazvane ljudskim dostojanstvom. Bez tog koraka, priča o ljudskom dostojanstvu ostaje puki koncept, apstraktna ideja bez realnog uporišta. S tim korakom, „objašnjavanje“ ljudskog dostojanstva postaje radosno traženje istine u zajedničkom dijalogu.

I zato: dostojanstvo nije koncept, živimo ga prije nego ga zagovaramo!

Written by Hrvoje Vargić