A Eulogy for Human Dignity

**Prepared for a Denver Homeless Out Loud Action in support of the creation of urban rest stops throughout our city which would provide toilet and shower access to those who live their lives in public spaces.**

Human Dignity led a wonderful life. It was the kind of life that many of us would have hoped to live: a life of deep conviction, commitment, and community. The maturation process for Human Dignity was quite a long one. It took thousands of years of human history before Human Dignity reached its fullness under Ghandi’s leadership in the Indian independence movement in the 1920’s through 1930’s. Sometimes it takes much longer for human-kind to reach deep down towards what is intrinsic and eternal rather than to grasp for what fleeting and on the surface.

Through equal parts of conviction, commitment, and community Ghandi led the resurrection of a nation and a people that had far too long been divided, and been dependent upon a system that thrived at the expense of the misery of the lowly. Through non-violent demonstration Ghandi inspired the lowly to stand up, and their willingness to stand awakened the consciousness of those who had been denying their dignity and equality for far too long.

Human Dignity reached its height in those days under the alternative leadership of Ghandi, and its momentum carried it over to our American shores under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960’s when King led a non-violent revolution that sought to do more than de-segregate the south, but integrate and reconcile the south to the beloved community that King dreamed of.

Human Dignity reached its glory days in the 20th century. It inspired an awakening to the deep truth of complete and utter equality which human-kind has always tried to deny. Human Dignity’s glory days lead liberation movements that sought to restore equality and reconcile broken systems for the betterment of all members of society. It was the kind of life that we would dream of, indeed. But today we declare… Human Dignity is dead. Would you say that with me? Human Dignity is Dead.

In a world where the love of money destroys community… Human Dignity is dead. In a world where rich and poor are afraid to look at one another and acknowledge their interdependence… Human Dignity is dead. In a world where grown men and women are forced to go to the bathrooms on themselves to avoid being criminalized… Human Dignity is definitely dead.

In the 13th chapter of Corinthians, the Apostle Paul remembers his own maturation process. A slow process, certainly, but not one that spanned thousands of years like the maturation process of Human Dignity. Paul remembers what it was like to think like a child, and then to awaken and put away his childish ways. If we think back on our own lives, we can recognize this movement as well.

The crowning achievement of my childhood was the day that I was potty-trained. I will never forget that day… it was like sudden liberation… no longer would I have to fill my pants with filth that oozed down my legs as I ran around on the playground. I could use a toilet! The day we were potty trained is a day that we ought to remember with great pride. “We put away our childish ways,” and we’re not going back there!

Once you have experienced the sweetness of indoor plumbing, who wants to revert to a pile of filth in their pants? No one! But the decision makers in our city have decided that this is our plight. Potty training, it seems, is the glory of the rich—not to be enjoyed by those whose life is spent in public space.

And so we are left to identify, it seems, with a first century homeless man from Palestine, wandering the streets in a world where the “foxes” certainly have homes… but we “have no place to lay our heads”… much less our bodily waste.

Human dignity is dead. Would you say that with me? Human Dignity is Dead. It is a solemn day indeed.

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