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The Inherent worth and dignity of every person
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"The inherent worth and dignity of every person" is the first principle I try to live by. I guess it would be more accurate to rephrase it as the worth and dignity of every being, since there may be more sapient beings in the universe than we alone.

"Inherent" means that the worth and dignity is by definition an essential component of the person, not an add-on, a by-product of training and socialization, an acquired taste or a rubric pasted on by some cultural maven. A person's worth and dignity exists by the very fact that she/he exists.

And what naturally flows from this principle is that my actions towards all other beings must reflect my acknowledgement and awareness of their inherent dignity and worthiness. Even when I'm angry or betrayed or grief-stricken, what the other person has done (or not done) does not erase their worth and dignity, though their actions and words may be rejected or despised.

Oh, this is so much easier to expound upon than it is to live by. When, for instance, there's a homeless woman in the restroom with you and she's washing up and the place stinks to high heaven. Or the aggressive young man who pushes you off the sidewalk because you're an old lady of a different ethnicity. Or the person in the car next to you with his windows rolled down and his rap noise blasting the muffler off your car.

Now remember, I tell myself, the worth and dignity of every person....

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