Thursday, February 24, 2011

work part of human dignity, not sole source

“The rights of workers to join together and bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions is not just a civil right, it is a fundamental way we recognize that human beings have an inherent dignity and worth,” writes Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, in yesterday’s Washinton Post. Thistlethwaite quotes Walter Rauschenbusch, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Pope John Paul II as including the centrality of work to our human dignity.

She writes, “What makes us not only people, but human beings with dignity and transcendent worth, is our capacity to work creatively in this world. When a society exploits our contribution to the whole, and refuses to recognize that we have a moral obligation to one another to insure decent working conditions, living wages and the means to support our families, it violates our human dignity.”

I agree, and I want to urge caution. Our human dignity is not *solely* from our work. Those who cannot work do not lose their dignity. Yes, we can and should be creative about finding work for as many as possible–whatever a person’s challenges or disabilities, there is *something* they can contribute, and thereby foster their own dignity and self-worth. Yet there will always be a few who cannot work; and they still have dignity and worth. I imagine that Thistlethwaite would agree, but the point was not made in her article. I felt it needed to be made explicit.

See the rest of the post, with links, at So May We Be.


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