The second half of the 20th century, by most accounts, is remembered as a period of hope in which profound lessons were learned with a deep sense of humility.
This drove real human progression, particularly in the endeavours of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles aimed at acknowledging and appreciating the value of human dignity. For example, Article 1, 1978: “All human beings belong to a single species and are descended from a single stock. They are born equal in dignity and rights and all form an integral part of humanity.”
Erosion of the essence of human value
Had those principles and values been nurtured through education, the ideals of human dignity would have continued to flourish. However, little regard was given to those principles for a multitude of reasons but, most prominently, due to a gradually building wave of unrestrained economic freedom. This detracted societies from appreciating these lessons, hence slowly eroding the essence of human value by trading them for personal gains and profits, all justified by empirical and utilitarian ethics. Politics, economics, and education, even medicine, all began to be guided by this wave. Why wouldn’t they? Don’t we all inherently seek self-interest in all walks of life?
Absence of character education
This traction leading to free markets and globalisation had both positive and negative consequences. On the one hand, extremely positive contributions were made that enabled human beings to unleash great potentials for the betterment of humanity, particularly in the fields of medicine and technology. However, on the other hand, due to the absence of character education from the mainstream educational system, this wave also brought extreme disparities and divisions leaving many sections of society extremely dissatisfied, divided and left out.
Multifaceted and multi-factorial divisions
The social and political implications of these divisions are multifaceted and multifactorial, including widely growing political, social, religious, ethnic, and geographical differences. As a result, the culture that has become rife today is one of groupism – putting the interests and world views of a particular group over those of other people, instead of impartially honouring the universal principles of fairness and a regard for human dignity.
The question of whether there is such a thing as human dignity in the 21st century is probably the most important question of all ……
At the Virtue Ethics Foundation we strongly believe that the only remedy to all political, social, economic and religious issues in the 21st century lies in the concerted efforts of societies and humanity to appreciate, embrace and champion human dignity for all. This vision becoming a reality is, however, only possible through education specifically aimed at this objective.
Please support our petition to help us do this.