DIGNITY: A MEANS TO AN END AND AN END IN ITSELF, OR AN EMPTY CONCEPT?



The recent webinar we ran, ‘A Matter of Power and Dignity: Resolving Conflict and Discrimination’ began with a provocation by Donna Hicks, author of two books on the topic of dignity and an Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University. Donna is an expert in conflict resolution.


In the backstory to the webinar, I explained the reason to want to explore this topic now. Of course, I did not need to remind people that conflict and discrimination seem to be on the rise globally and on so many levels. What I wanted to do was explore what I think the root causes are, and how we might resolve them.

My argument is that “Injustice, police brutality, discrimination, lack of opportunity, low pay, poor working conditions, greater health risks etc. They are all the causes and the consequences of a common factor. Dignity, or an assault on it. More specifically, disrespect for the dignity of others by those with ‘power’, and the feelings victims have when their dignity is attacked”.

In high profile cases, such as the killing of George Floyd by the police officer who suffocated him by kneeling on his neck during an arrest, the abuse of power and its relationship with dignity are very vivid. In many other cases the relationship is much less clear.


Hicks wrote about this incident in a blog post for Yale University Press. In “A matter of Dignity”, she said she felt confident “the events that unfolded can be viewed through the lens of dignity”. And, having read her blog post and both of her books, I am also certain dignity is the right lens with which to view all types of conflict, and to address the problems caused by all kinds of discrimination. It also allows us to uncover insights that can lead to lasting resolutions.


Continue reading this article which was originally posted on Medium

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