Thoughts on the Priority of Persons

Experiencing gives you a first person perspective. You see while you act. You see while other groundbreaking things happen around you. Such has been my experience being an Advocacy Intern at the World Youth Alliance Headquarters in New York City. Being around policy makers, being in a position to see the adoption of policies which eventually turn into laws, and also being part of WYA which advocates for human centered policies for all aspects of the law at the United Nations, has given me an opportunity to see things from a new perspective.

 

I believe in WYA’s mission of protecting and promoting human dignity in the field of advocacy. It informs both the constitutional adjudication and protection for all persons living in today’s world. It is the value that supports all rights. Being an advocacy intern has given me an understanding  of the intrinsic values needed by a human person including the intrinsic dignity of human life, freedom of conscience and religion, the family as the basic unit of the society, person-centered development, affirming and defending those values to build  freer and more just societies around the globe. 

 

Of particular interest to me is that WYA does not base its belief system on any religion or bias. It is based on the fact that every human being is equal by the mere virtue of being human. When we talk about human beings and the equality of all, it is not an abstract context that is pulled out of thin air but an idea that is based on the long standing knowledge of human philosophy. The kind of philosophy that WYA is based on uses critical thinking, clear writing and logical analysis. This approach uses tools to understand the language we use to interpret and describe an ever evolving world. It defines our place within it. In a transiting  world, so many people do not stop and think about the source of their ideas, the essence of their beings and the things that surround them. Is it because there is no time, interest or desire to learn about the intrinsic meaning of actions?  Objects or people and everything that is supernatural and ingenuine? This kind of interest has been lost to us by the responsibilities that surround us, the stress of obligations that are lived daily and various marketing strategies that companies have built on a superficial society (with no desire to build a world beyond what is perceived by our senses). Is there a way for human beings to find meaning in a saturated and fast paced life?

For jurists and philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Austin, laws exist  as commands for the sovereign. The sovereignty of a law giver is founded on the idea by which individual subjects relinquish their individuality through their natural rights to self-preservation and prosperity, and hand them over to a sovereign individual or body. The reasoned conclusions (dictates of reason, conclusions, theoremes ) which, as a kind of moving mechanism, bring about peace in the service of efficient self-preservation and (along with that) the contract that leads to existing forms of society, which are known as natural laws. Hobbes emphasizes again and again that self-preservation, safety, peace and welfare – that is, the natural desire and right of the individual – is the purpose of all sovereignty and of every law. This establishes the link between philosophy and law. In our day to day life, we should think of philosophy as a way to base our thoughts and ideas. If I am a human being, what then is my purpose? And why is that my purpose? And if that is the reason, is there an obligation for me to respect others? Hence law. The law links ideas and purpose and a spoken code of conduct.

 

From the learnings and understanding of WYA’s values, most of which are based on philosophy and law, one can lead a life with meaning derived. It is possible to find an essence in the most basic aspects of our lives. You learn from WYA the intrinsic value of your thoughts, emotions and of your being. Encompassing chapter 7 of the CTP, the purpose of the law is to guide the citizenry and promote good conduct for all. As John Finnis expounds, law is based on the relationships between persons, which provides us with the rational, non-arbitrary basis for development of legal norms that limit, direct and condition the actions of individuals under the law.

 

 

As the CTP describes, I understand that, “this metaphysics of the activity of discourse, advocacy, adjudication, lecturing and writing enables jurisprudence to stabilize the most fundamental concepts: the good which, because it is good for members of a group who are all persons, can and should be a common good, and the rights which justice essentially consists in respecting and promoting dignity unyieldingly.”

Published on: May 3, 2020
Written by Faith Kabora, a WYA Advocacy intern from Kenya