#37 | Robert Lovell | Inherent Worth

Submission 37
Robert Lovell
Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing (Lansing, MI) 5332

What is your suggestion or idea?

Under Values and Covenant:

Insert after Equity. ““We declare that every person has inherent worth and dignity.””

Strike ““We declare … worthiness.””

Retain ““We covenant … communities.””

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

The suggested sentence is much stronger. First, ““inherent worth and dignity”” is about much more than DEI issues, although they are important. Consider, for example, choosing a dignified death, or personal privacy.

Second, while sources vary, ““worthiness”” suggests something earned; ““worth”” belongs with ““inherent””.

Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?

My congregation meets 3 times in April on Article II, and I will bring this idea up. Based on informal talk with friends, I expect support.

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Please note that the commission, in their FAQ, provides this rationale for the use of “worthiness.” (See Frequently Asked Questions: Article II Study and Revisions)

Why worthiness?

We’re dealing with a past in which monetary worth was assigned to human beings. “Worthiness” is more explicit that we are talking about the quality of being worthy. Definition “quality of being good enough.” We are all good enough as we are. Worth can be monetized. People were and still are being monetized. That definition of worth is not the original intention; for people who have a history of their people being monetized. Worthiness can never be monetized. We are all worthy of love, respect, dignity, kindness, compassion, and care.

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Again, as I replied on another post, if an explanation is needed—especially among UUs, who should understand more than the general public—then a rewrite is needed, or the explanation should be included.

And we can also learn new things. Our initial reaction to things is often based on the culture that surrounds us. Whether we end up with worth or worthiness is not as important to me as it is for us to discuss and learn.

Charles D makes a good point. But I still prefer the term “worth” over “worthiness”. “Worth” conveys the meaning sufficiently. Adding “-iness” is superfluous. It looks too pretentious to me.

agreed; and it needs explanation, which immediately makes it a bad idea

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How will we use these phrases to guide our lives?
As we think about our lives, we can say, “Did I recognize and respect the inherent worth and dignity of all persons?”
Or we could say, “did I recognize and respect the worthiness of all persons”?
I think the former is clearer and reflects the intent better.

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