By Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr., J.D., PH.D., M.A., 33º
The human being represents a cosmic reality, a phenomenon of universal value with physical structure and psychological characteristics. The self-recognition of said value and our recognition of the same in others is what we call Human Dignity.
In Latin, the word dignitas meant: appreciation or valuation. Therefore, to say that someone and/or something was “dignified” was equivalent to saying that it was valuable, meritorious, worthy, and possessor of a distinction.
Talking about human dignity, we will be considering that a person has a “human worth”, or that he/she is valuable as human being, which, to some of us may seem redundant for we usually identify as equivalent the concepts of person and human being; However, men and women of all cultures have tended to consider that people have “dignity” when possessing a specific value added to their simple quality of human beings, thus transferring to that circumstantial and adjective dignity the substance of the fundamental worth of which depend all other values attributable to any person.
Thus, the appreciation of “indignity” or specific negative value of the condition of slavery, has, throughout thousands of years, deprived millions of Men and Women of being valued as such, denying them that Human Dignitas which has been recognized solely in “free men”. The person or “role” of slave in the social scene (let us not forget that “persona” meant “theatrical mask” in Latin) deprived the individual of human dignity, making him/her a “head of cattle” or a “thing”, subject to the will of men whom society considered “free and worthy”. In like manner, the condition of women in patriarchal societies has been destitute of full human dignity, as it is the case with undocumented aliens, gay people, disabled individuals, etc., relegating their individual valuation to a “third” or “last level”, and determining rigid social trenches to the development of personal identity. Evidently, it is always about a juridical farce which facilitated and still facilitates the exploitation of men by men. And so it remained a farce for as long as the enslaved individual ceased considering him/herself a human, since nobody could deprive him/her of his/her conscience, which, after all, is the Interior Temple of every human being.
All this can be open to various analyses, with different focuses and different angles, depending on how we approach them studying the psychological motivations which have been determining the structures of all human groups, starting from the horde, the tribe, the clan, the family, etc., or the characteristics of the economical and cultural systems which have sustained these very structures. In the cited examples, enslaved people were not free, women were not strong, and free men were never adequately capable. Liberty, Strength and Intelligence have always been the three powerful dignifying conditions, symbolized by society as Elevated Human Values and whose falsification and substitution have also always given origin to false dignities.
The freedom of choosing in accordance with the natural impulses of our characteristic psychosomatic structure, of that which we call human nature, from the very singularity which is represented by every person, demands knowledge of the reality which surrounds us. There is no true freedom of option, without a previous analysis of the exterior world that can permit us to ponder and measure the risk which our actions might represent to the maintenance of our identity and integrity, since one of the first dictates of our human conscience is to keep on existing in Time and Space joyfully.
The truly human acts are not mere pulsations or responses of reactions to indiscriminate stimuli from the habitat in which the individual finds him/herself, precisely because we possess a discriminatory or selective capacities, ordering abilities, and conscience of our personal entity. The less comparative data we store in our memories, the less our knowledge will be, and the closer we will be to the other species of animals, though bare of the series of vital resources conserved by these. The essentially human acts are always ponderings and/or ministrations that permit us to self-evaluate and value the exterior world within the context of our own circumstances. These evaluations, and not the simple impact of exterior occurrences, produce sentiments which activate our Will in one way or another. The evaluating capacity is Rationality, the function of that which we call Reason, and the sentiments which punctually impulse our will constitute what we call Meaning, Courage, Conviction, Determination and Fortitude. This meaning that inspires human acts is frequently confused with the aim or finality of such acts. Our will is courageously determined when moved by feelings that are not merely animals, but specifically humans.
A pendulous relation between sentiment and reason is established: a first sensation, produced as a result of the capture of an external phenomenon, through the senses, places in due course our capacity for evaluation and ministration by means of the more or less rapid collation of our mental archive of data and experiences. It may be that such first experience can settle in your mind, as a sentiment, or be disposed of. If it is converted into a stable sentiment, it shall determine our Will, motivating our acts and utilizing our rational code of data to reach the desired goal. From there on, it will be Reason the one which will guide our true actions as men and women; However, the misuse of “reasoning” can take us through a chain of analyses, back and forth, capable of making us “re-evaluate” our first sensation and of ejecting that sentiment already settled in our mind, thus altering our will.
The aperture or permanent propensity to favor this pendulous relation between sentiment and reason elevates men and women above the rest of animal species and constitute the essence of Human Initiation. It requires the apprenticeship or education that the pedagogues of all times have striven to obtain, following rules and diverse methods, but failing to give to the genesis of sentiments the importance which it really has, and focusing, most of the time, in the pure intellective value of reason applied to the development of conceptual or intellectual abstractions, without understanding that such should be a second stage of human education.
Those who do not know, cannot or want not to submit their will to the process of self-analysis previously schematically described, generally they tend to confuse their volitions determined by sentiments anchored in their meaning and courage, and not submitted to a rational critique with universal human values, or of permanent human category applicable to all and in everywhere. That close-mindedness my Brethren, is called Fanaticism. Fanaticism walks hand in hand with Ignorance, and very frequently with Personal Avarice, which united as a wicked triumvirate subjugate humanity under the scepter of Intolerance.
The true recognition of human dignity takes effect by recognizing freedom of option, through an education which underlines the importance of values that are essentially human, and which allows each individual to realize said values in him/herself. That is to say, to consider transcending values, values that are not only appreciable within a concrete cultural scheme, but that are beyond mere material or temporal contingencies, as they are symmetrical with the Universal Law reflected in human nature and carved into the very structure of mankind.
Such is, in short, the utopian message of Universal Brotherly Love that should inspire every Free-Mason in his initiatic path.
Reprinted by permission of Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr.