Recognising Another’s Dignity

I went for a socially distant walk with a friend recently and they brought their dog. Something that really struck me was the way they talked about their dog. It was the way someone would speak about their own child.

I’ve never had a pet, so I don’t fully understand the relationship owners often have with their pets. But it seems to me that there is a connection between the two that is about recognising the dignity of Others – in this case, my friend’s lovely dog.

When we recognise the dignity of other people and other “things”, we see their worth. We treat them differently, with reverence and respect. They are not objects to consume and use or trade for profit, but they become part of “us”.

The climate crisis and the state of the world is linked to our consumerist mentality. We need to recognise the dignity of individuals and the environment if we are to Care For Our Common Home – as Pope Francis is calling. His namesake, St. Francis, was perhaps one of the first saints to recognise the dignity of the animals and the Earth, as well as the poor.

Do you find it easy to recognise the dignity of the Other and the World?