The Essential Characteristics of Human Persons

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THE ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF HUMAN PERSONS

Part One: In Relation to Our Selves

1. As human persons, we have INTELLECT and FREE WILL.

a. We can grasp, recognize, and appreciate truth and goodness. b. We can reason and decide freely.
c. We can choose among options: either to work for or to disregard truth and goodness. • Parents who push their children to take up nursing despite children’s capacity for higher learning, say, medicine, computer engineering, law—and all in view of earning more money and living abroad.

d. We are conscious beings, with the capacity to self-reflect. We are driven not by mere instincts, but by intelligence and the power of choice. • St. Thomas’ graduation of being: Stone – “simple plants” (that is, single-celled organisms that live to simply feed) – Plants (that live to feed and produce energy) – Animals (that live to feed, produce energy, protect themselves, play, all through instinct) – Humans (that feed, produce, protect themselves, and think and reflect. To re-flect means to have the capacity to be aware that one is thinking, that one is be-ing.) • Seeing food – then eating it, all the time, without thinking! Seeing a sexy body – then masturbating as soon as you’re alone, without thinking! (Not using one’s power of choice and being ruled by instinct is animalistic living!)

e. Implications: Because of our intellect and free will --

i. We have the inalienable right to free expression, to information, to education, to assembly, to worship, and to collective action, to seek truth and to act in freedom.

• How many of you send their maids to school? Allow their maids to go to Church on Sundays? • Martial Law; Filipino government poor in informing us about results of Ninoy investigation, Erap inquest, Arroyo tapes; Churches should keep parishioners informed where their collected money is going, etc.

ii. With freedom comes responsibility. (This will be discussed in a separate lesson.)

iii. USE YOUR POWER OF CHOICE, and use it wisely.

2. As human persons, we have DIGNITY. Dignity means that unique nobility, excellence, superiority, respectability that humans have over all creatures.

a. Dignity is not something that can simply be given or taken away, sold or bought, at will. b. Dignity does not depend on social status, educational attainment, race, age, place of origin. • Manileños looking down on Cebuanos looking down on Bol-anons looking down on indigenous natives. • How some of you treat their younger brothers and sisters! You have better treatment of your friends or even your pets, or even your personal things! (I’m guilty of this as well.)

c. Dignity is not and cannot be destroyed even if a person fails to recognize or denies another’s dignity. • The dignity of your maids and drivers doesn’t rise and fall with your recognition or refusal to recognize it.

d. Implications:

i. By virtue of our dignity, we are not tools to be used, commodities to be abused or sold, machines to be manipulated. • Child laborers whose employers abuse their age, innocence, and trust; the poor being manipulated by Trapo’s on election time; grade school teacher selling candy to students during her subject; grade five teacher who writes down names of students on the board after receiving Christmas gifts from them, etc.

ii. We are not a means to an end, but an end in ourselves. • Teacher who applies to a school of rich kids to increase contacts for pyramid scheme.

iii. Our dignity demands absolute respect. In life and death. • Prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.
• Everyone deserves a decent mass and burial. There were priests who refused to bless the dead body of a philanderer, or someone not married in church. Also, this is one of the reasons why I personally think there can be no...
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