Your worth and dignity are inherent. They cannot be discarded or taken away. Maybe you made terrible choices yesterday or all last year. Today, you can choose to be different; today you can choose to be your best. While one’s worth and dignity can be tarnished or buried, made hard to see, there is no sin that can erase them or make someone irredeemable. It is our responsibility and privilege as UUs to accept you, but also to always encourage you in spiritual growth, so that you can be your own personal best.
We aspire to a world where this is universal and universally recognized. It is important to our vision of the Beloved Community. If anyone can lose their worth, which is analogous to losing one’s humanity, then theoretically anyone could. Once we start making exceptions, we make it a little easier to exclude others; to see those exceptions widened. If the dignity of any person can be revoked by the majority or by decree, then none of us is truly safe. If a right is not a right for everyone, then it is really just a privilege given to the in group, and in groups normally shrink as time goes on.
Affirming the Worth of Every Person means building Systems of Justice.
Justice cannot happen accidentally. Luck, good or bad, is no substitute for justice. Justice requires intention and thoughtfulness. Justice requires institutions and accountability. If the goal is Justice, it must be for everyone or it is not truly just. It must treat us all as worthy.
When we say that we affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person,it means we will stand up for those who do not look like us. We will speak up for those who do not speak our language. Our community includes every person who wants to live in a more just, more compassionate, more peaceful world. Everyone is our neighbor.
When we say that we affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person, what we mean is that everyone is worth love and redemption, no matter their past. Everyone who is alive can choose to be their best selves today, regardless of what they did yesterday. We don’t absolve them of consequences, but we do hold that they can and should be encouraged to be better now. We don’t know who they might be after another year! Can’t we all be a little better?
This need not be a complicated theological statement. It is an affirmation that we are all human, and none of us is flawless. None of us fits precisely into the dominant culture. We cannot allow that to reduce any person to anything less than a human being. We cannot allow our systems of authority to strip any of us of our humanity.
We covenant to affirm a promote (among other things) the inherent worth and dignity of every person.