(We're about to embark on a series of posts that explores the individual points of the JTN manifesto. As each post gets written, I'll update the original post with links to each of these descriptive posts so that we'll always have an easy way to access the conversations that describe all that we say we believe and why. That original post will then be permanently added to the sidebar for our future reference. The links will also be nested on the About JTN page, where the manifesto also exists.) ---
When I sat on the plane that day and began to think about what a tribe committed to the journey of nonviolence would be about, I knew the first thing on the list would be:
The precious dignity of every human person.
I'll admit, I kept coming back to the wording of this statement. Was the word "precious" too frou-frou? Too feminine? But I couldn't allow myself to cross out that word.
That's really what it all comes down to. We believe in the inviolable nobility of every human soul.
Even if they've committed great crimes?
Even if they've enacted great atrocities?
Even if we see no hope of life in them at all, given all that they have done?
Yes, even then.
Because what it comes down to is this.
Someone who has committed a great crime, or enacted a great atrocity, or seems to have no hope of life within them ... has ultimately began where we stand now: in a place of judgment.
At some point, they came to believe that an individual standing before them was unworthy of life or freedom. They lost the belief that other people carried their own innate sense of dignity. They chose to look upon others as objects to be manipulated or destroyed at their own whim.
If we stand before them in that same judgment seat, how are we any different?
The judgment is the same. And it is a murderous judgment.
A person walking the nonviolent path believes life -- all of life -- holds innate within it something precious, something mysterious that we cannot bestow and do not possess the authority to snuff out.
(And it should be noted that the broadest views of nonviolence would extend this to life of every kind -- creation and animals included -- so that it affects the way we care for and inhabit the earth, the way we eat, and even how we treat pesky bugs and spiders crawling along the living room wall!)
Ultimately, this aspect of nonviolence presents questions to us about the value of life, its origin, and its end.
It also asks of us questions of hope:
- Do we believe human beings can change?
- Do we believe we are meant to, through the intention of God?
- If so, how do we believe change in a human soul truly comes about?
These thoughts have only scratched the surface of this subject, and I'm sure you have more to add. So let's hear your thoughts:
What do you believe -- or perhaps struggle to believe -- about the precious dignity of every human life?