213. The dignity of others is to be respected in all circumstances, not because that dignity is something we have invented or imagined, but because human beings possess an intrinsic worth superior to that of material objects and contingent situations.
This should be obvious adulthood stuff, but it’s not. I’m not always sure that people who amass things, precious things and mistreat people are really valuing their possessions as much as objects as they are placing their identity into those objects as self-extensions. JK Rowling’s mythology touches on it well.
No person, even a member of the 1% with their own bloated sense of self, take heed:
This requires that they be treated differently. That every human being possesses an inalienable dignity is a truth that corresponds to human nature apart from all cultural change. For this reason, human beings have the same inviolable dignity in every age of history and no one can consider himself or herself authorized by particular situations to deny this conviction or to act against it.
Is it a matter of will?
The intellect can investigate the reality of things through reflection, experience and dialogue, and come to recognize in that reality, which transcends it, the basis of certain universal moral demands.
Perhaps sometimes. The mind can also deceive the narcissist. It is easy to develop justifications for one’s behavior. I think the likely vector is akin to the alcoholic hitting bottom. When cruel behavior whips back on an abuser, and they find their own dignity has been stripped away, perhaps then enlightenment may come.
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