Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula (Newport News, VA) 8114
What is your suggestion or idea?
Current: Equity. We declare that every person has the right to flourish with inherent dignity and worthiness. We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities.
Amendment idea: return the concept wording to “inherent worth and dignity…” yielding " We declare that every person has the right to flourish with inherent worth and dignity. We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain fully accessible and inclusive communities.
What is the reason for your amendment idea?
“Inherent dignity and worthiness” is awkward, clumsy and distracting, all of which detract from the power of the message.
Thus, the word ‘worth’ is a noun. That has 5 letters. The proposed revision adds not one but two suffixes (‘-y’ and ‘ness’) – Worth +y = Adjective: ‘worthy.’ Then we add another suffix “”-ness"" to take it BACK to a noun ('worthiness).
Noun → adjective → Noun.
Gee, we had a noun to start with - ““worth.””
There are 5 letters to worth, and 5 letters to the suffixes changing the noun to an adjective and then back to a noun. Talk about circuitous verbiage that adds zero meaning.
Yes, I have heard the rationale that human beings used to be assigned a monetary worth as slaves. But we UUs have two generations – nearly 40 years – of recognizing “The inherent worth and dignity of every person” as our sacred first principle. Thus, ‘inherent worth and dignity’ with honorable interpretation is deeply established in UU congregations.
Note that ‘worth’ dealing with monetary value has quite different phrasing, and hence is not confused with “inherent worth and dignity of each person.” Thus, one might ask “what is that car worth,” where ‘worth’ clearly evokes monetary value. Very different phrasing. Or “That’s not worth my time,” again a phrasing and meaning quite different from our well established “inherent worth and dignity.”
For all these reasons, I urge the UUA to return this portion of the Equity value to “inherent worth and dignity…”
Signed, Bek Wheeler, President, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula (Newport News, VA)
Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?
I’ve talked with many in online groups and in my own congregation. All agree with returning to the phrasing ““the inherent worth and dignity…””