Human Dignity Group Guide

Volume IX, Number I

Artwork by Maidah Waqar

What is our inherent worth as individuals? How can we go beyond stereotypes and labels to recognize the dignity in others? In this groundbreaking issue of KidSpirit, contributors consider the very nature of what it means to human. Through stories of personal discovery and growth, their work reaches for a deeper understanding of how we relate to friends, strangers, and even ourselves.

1. In his response to this issue’s Big Question, "Can Labeling Predetermine Success or Failure?," Nimai Agarwal takes a closer look at one of the words he is afraid might define how others see him: short. His inspection reveals that the label isn’t necessarily positive or negative, but takes on whatever meaning he chooses to give it. “Labels can limit us,” he writes, “but only if we let them.” What words do you allow to define you, and how do they affect your own self-image? Write down 10 adjectives you would use to describe yourself, then 10 adjectives you think others might use to describe you. Are there any contradictions? Do you feel any of your labels might hold you back or help you succeed? Why or why not? Swap lists with a friend. Do any of the words your friend wrote down surprise you or reveal something you didn’t know?

2. Being born and raised on opposite sides of an international conflict didn’t stop Noorjehan Asim and Himadri Agarwal from becoming friends. Read their Feature article, "On Borders and Boundaries," and consider a time in your life you got to know someone different from you. What did you think about that person initially? What did you find you had in common? Was there anything you disagreed about? How has your perception of your new friend or acquaintance changed over time?

3. Dr. Sarah Sayeed’s PerSpectives column, "Affirming Human Dignity," emphasizes that dignity is not just a right, but a responsibility we each have to each other. Based on her experiences as a community organizer, she writes that “while dignity is something we are born with, it is also something we affirm for one another.” How do the words and actions of others remind you of your own dignity? How can you do the same for others? Come up with five things people do or say that make you feel respected and valued. Then, write down five things you can do this week to recognize the dignity of people around you. Discuss your ideas with the group. How do these actions contribute to your community as a whole?