What is an example of how to find yourself

human dignity

“Human dignity is inviolable.” This is what it says literally in the Basic Law and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the term is right in the first article. You don't have to earn or work out human dignity. Everyone has it from birth - and yet it is too often trampled on.  

Human dignity is not a quality like wisdom, beauty, or generosity. The concept of human dignity is based on the idea that every human being is valuable just because of his or her existence. Nevertheless, the concept of human dignity is difficult to grasp and is used in very different contexts. The debate on euthanasia speaks of dignified dying; research on embryonic stem cells is, depending on the point of view, a violation or imperative of human dignity. A press agency reported that a court has ruled that a Berlin prison violates human dignity because several prisoners are housed in a cell without spatially separated sanitary facilities. And then everyone probably knows the saying “This is below my dignity”.

A term with old roots

There was already talk of dignity in ancient times. Here, however, in two different contexts, both of which can still be felt today. On the one hand there was dignity as a mark of a social position. People got different amounts of it, and the people at the top of society were called dignitaries. You could recognize them by their clothes and symbols of power. Examples of this today are the mayor's chain or the cardinal's robe. On the other hand, dignity was also something that belongs to all people in the ancient world and that sets them apart from animals. The reason given for this was reason and, in the Christian and Jewish tradition, man's image of God.

The philosopher Immanuel Kant derived human dignity primarily from human autonomy. Man has a choice - he can decide how he wants to act, and the decision depends on his moral values, which have been developed by the people themselves over the millennia. In the middle of the 19th century, the term became a political catchphrase for the workers' movement, which demanded decent working and living conditions. Under the impression of the degrading processes during the National Socialist rule in Germany, human dignity became the focus of the German value system after 1945 and has also gained a central role in other national and international constitutions and declarations.

Human dignity and human rights

Human dignity is not just a philosophical term, but implies an obligation. The other human rights can be derived from it. This applies both to the prohibition of discrimination, to civil liberties (such as freedom of expression) and protective rights (such as the prohibition of torture or the guarantee of a fair trial), as well as to social human rights. The latter lay the foundations for a decent life. This includes the right to leisure and education as well as the right to health care, housing and work.

But is work that is so poorly paid that it is not possible to live a decent life without additional government support compatible with human dignity? Does a state respect human dignity when the elderly and the sick are housed in homes whose staff is so limited that there is hardly any time for care and occupation with the people? How are asylum seekers accommodated and cared for with us?

Terrorism and human dignity

Worldwide terror threatens the observance of human dignity and human rights. Democratic states always offer a target for terrorism through the freedom of the individual. In the course of the fight against terrorism, freedoms have already been severely curtailed. An example of this is the relaxation of data protection regulations such as the storage of digital data for a certain period of time or the possibility of spying on other people's computers.

When terrorists are caught, it is often difficult to treat them humanely. You yourself act inhumanely and accept everything to achieve your goals. Nevertheless, they are entitled to human dignity - it is inviolable.