Violence and Human Dignity

Our society usually interprets violence in a conventional ways just as a physical harm that is done to the body or physical destruction. Even though a lot of dictionaries would suggest some sort of physical

force this definition seems very simple. Moreover most of the time this interpretation is very limited. As Robert Brown suggested violence is “the violation of personhood“ (Brown, 7) .

Violation of personhood may exist in different ways. But some of those ways may be generalized into four categories. The first category is personal overt physical assault. This is very known category in which violence is done by physical force of one person is applied on the human body. For example two people are getting into a fight and at the end they start to hit each other. Another example is of Mike Bray who was an American Baptist minister and also antiabortionist. He used to bomb abortion clinics and murder abortion doctors. By doing this he justified his actions through bible in the sense that he was saving innocent unborn human lives. Second is institutionalized over physical assault. This is also a sort of an assault that is expressed by applying force on a human body but it is not done by one individual. This type of violence comes from a more powerful source like police source or an army and a very good example shown is war (Brown, 7). A huge power of a country or even more than one countries are involved in act of human destruction by killing people. The third type of violence is personal covert violence. This type of violence does not involve physical act of destruction rather it involves psychological, spiritual and emotional act. It is verbal violence. Good example is from American history when Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. After this incident almost all Japanese looking people were verbally violated at all time in public places by Americans. It may also be written or art violence. For example an article that would humiliate and dehumanize a person in a way or even better a political cartoon or some comic picture that may in fact dehumanize a human or religion by showing it as an enemy or something lesser than a human. The fourth way of institutionalized covert violence which involves institutions violating members within a society. This kind of violation would involved racism based on color like slavery or racism based on religion like during Holocaust. It would involve sexism like in eighteenth century when males were considered men, dominant figures and women were considered as their property. They didn’t have a right to vote, right to speak up or even attend particular places like gentlemen clubs. It also involves poverty because our society seems to help out poor people but, believe it or not, there are so many societies in which a person living in a poverty would not be even considered a human being and there for would be violated by all means.

Conventional understandings of violence are limited because a lot of people don’t consider some of the acts that were showed as a violence. Now we understand that racism is a violence but during racism it was considered normal, now we understand that by verbal, written and art violence we could create a total dehumanization which would cause much bigger destructions but before it was not considered a violation rather an inspiration of person’s thoughts to a particular opinion. Moreover all of these violations enforce physical abuse such as blacks were physically abused, political cartoons now days enforce war in Iraq. There for without looking at different violation it call comes down to physical violence and there for its conventional understanding becomes limited.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on December 10th 1948 after World War II. The origin of it started in Germany during Holocaust. It was a genocide act toward Jewish religion and Jews. Around six million of Jewish people were killed just because county’s dictator did not like Jews and tried to clear his country from them. After the war United Nations raised a question of whom to protect the human rights and there for decided that the entire world has to gather and take responsibility since the state could not protect its own people. It became a necessity to protect humans against such massive destruction and to inspire other not to follow such acts of violence. There for Universal declaration of Human Rights was adopted. In it is clearly stated to respect human dignity with all its responsibilities. It stated to make each person have his/her freedom, justice and peace. Declarations clearly does not use any religious language because people around the world have different religions and some of them don’t have a religion at all. Except it explains the responsibilities of nations straight to the point.

Catholic bishops of the United States explain the origin and responsibilities of human dignity from the origin of life. Christian origins of human dignity reveals four dimensions of it. It opens up the story of creation and through the story a reader has a deeper sense of meaning. First dimension is that human dignity is good because it is created and created by God. Secondly it shows that human beings are made in Gods image. This reveals that each person is given human rights and responsibilities of everything that was created by God. The third aspect explains that just by being created human beings already have dignity within themselves and that they should care for it. The last aspect is to be fruitful and multiply. Through this dimension origin of creation gives a chance to respect human dignity and enables a person transfer it to the new generation.

More over bishops explained that there are responsibilities of having human dignity. From reading “The Christian Vision of Economic Life” responsibilities were described. It states “…to protect human life and property, demand respect for parents and the spouses and the children of one’s neighbor and manifest a special concern for the vulnerable members of the community: widows, poor, orphans, and strangers in the land” (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 19). By protection of property was meant not to be wasting resources that were given by another human being or by nature and being able to distribute resources equally. The second was to respect parents, spouses and children of neighbor. This responsibility emphasized a respect and understanding not only of your own family but rather the family of humanity. The third aspect was to protect vulnerable members of community because they are of a lesser power and may even be lacking power at all. Through these responsibilities and actions of help it is showed our own dignity and respect. The last responsibility is justice but not a law justice. It is more a Gods justice which is dealt with “…rightness of the human condition before God and within society …manifestation of love and the condition for love to grow”( National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 22). This characteristic is more concerned with brining agreement, harmony and tranquility within a community. There for in order to achieve it there has to be some rule made that would hold the whole community within the borders of characteristics of dignity.