Tagged: “Inherent Worth”
How do I “acknowledge the other person’s humanity” when this person acts more like an animal than a person. Sorry for such a negative statement, but this is how this person behaves.
Please keep in mind the distinction between what Aristotle described as each person’s “potentiality” compared with the person’s “actuality” in behaving in accord with the moral virtues. The one you described as acting “like an animal” is not actualizing the potential for high level human behavior. Yet, this person still has the “potentiality” to achieve this, with proper virtues education and encouragement by wise people. As you see this potential, you are acknowledging the humanity in the other person.
While the other cannot benefit in any direct, physical way from your forgiveness, there are two areas of benefit for your consideration: 1) You may be able to create a positive (and truthful) view of that person, preserving a more dignified reputation for this person than might have been the case if you speak negatively about the person to others; and 2) you, yourself, as the forgiver, may find that your resentment melts and so you feel better upon forgiving.
No, to forgive another person does not mean that you, as the forgiver, believe that this other person can or will change. To forgive is to offer compassion and the acknowledgement of the person’s humanity, regardless of the outcome of this belief. This is one important reason why we have to distinguish forgiving and reconciling. You can offer this compassion and recognition of the other’s humanity without reconciling if the other remains a danger to you.
Apart from the idea that we are all made in the image and likeness of God, how can non-believers see the worth in other people?
Aristotle makes a distinction between potentiality and actuality. If it is the case that all people have free will, then even when people behave badly, then they each have the potential to change, to actualize that potential and become better people to others. According to the philosopher Kant, all people are ends in and of themselves and so should be treated as such. The philosopher, Margaret Holmgren, argued for the position that all people, based on Kant’s idea, are worthy of respect. So, there is room in different philosophies for the view that all people have worth.
For over 10 years on this site, we have posted a reflection in which we encourage readers to grow in love as their legacy of the present year. We have said this across the years:
“Give love away as your legacy of 2022.
How can you start? I recommend starting by looking backward at one incident of 2021. Please think of one incident with one person in which you were loved unconditionally, perhaps even surprised by a partner or a parent or a caring colleague. Think of your reaction when you felt love coming from the other and you felt love in your heart and the other saw it in your eyes. What was said? How were you affirmed for who you are, not necessarily for something you did? What was the other’s heart like, and yours?”
It is now about four months later. Can you list some specific, concrete ways in which you have chosen love over indifference? Love over annoyance? If so, what are those specifics and how are they loving? We ask because we have only about eight months left to 2022. Have you engaged in about a third of all the loving responses that you will leave in this world this year?
If you have not yet deliberately left love (or enough love) in the world this year, there is time. . . . . and the clock is ticking.