We all share this world. It’s important that we always strive to treat one another with kindness, tolerance, and compassion. This is key to humanity’s survival and progress.
It’s also the idea behind Global Dignity Day. In 2006, at the World Economic Forum, three leaders began discussing the topic of division and polarization among people and cultures throughout the world. This small group consisted of Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Finnish author and philosopher Pekka Himanen, and Operation HOPE Founder and CEO John Bryant, an American. It wasn’t hard for them to identify several factors that divide people and fuel conflict. However, they also believed it is possible to bring people together by focusing on compassion and similar virtues that lie at the heart of basically every religion and moral code on Earth. They drafted the Global Dignity Founding Principles; today, these principles are expressed as follows:
- Every person has the right to pursue their purpose and meaning in life.
- Every person has the right to live in a society that provides access to education, health, income, and security.
- Every person has the right to have their life, identity, and beliefs respected by others.
- Every person has the responsibility to help others fulfill their potential.
- Dignity in action means standing up to injustice, inequality, and intolerance.
The first person to sign on to the Founding Principles was Muhammad Ali; other well-known figures who supported Global Dignity Day in its early years included Sir Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Since then, Global Dignity Day has developed into more than a single day of the year where people around the globe celebrate these values. The Global Dignity organization promotes them all year long. Read on to learn about the important role this organization plays in our world (and particularly in the lives of young people).
Providing Educational Resources
People don’t always naturally appreciate their own dignity, or the dignity of others. It’s essential that these ideas be taught in schools when children are young enough to be actively developing their life values and perspectives.
The Global Dignity organization provides educators with curricula and other resources to help them teach the concept of shared dignity. The organization also offers learning experiences designed to illustrate to students how they can practically apply lessons about dignity in their own lives. A few of the many free educational tools available on the Global Dignity website include an introduction to the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, UNESCO’s Teaching and Learning for Sustainable Future, and the Facilitating History educator resource. Other resources include individual lessons designed for children ages 5-9 and for students ages 10 and up. In both cases, the lessons focus on understanding dignity, exploring the concept in more depth, and encouraging students to share examples of dignity from their own lives.
This is key to spreading the message throughout the world. Representatives from Global Dignity can’t visit every school on the planet, and Global Dignity Day occurs once each year. However, they can provide teachers with the resources they need to share Global Dignity’s message in classrooms.
Dignity Day Events
The classroom is by no means the only place where the idea of teaching dignity is important. Global Dignity Day events provide an engaging way to broadcast the Global Dignity Principles to the larger public and build a worldwide movement around these ideas. In 2018, more than 860,000 youth, teachers, parents, volunteers, and leaders from civil society took part in Global Dignity Day events in over 80 countries.
Global Dignity facilitates Dignity Day events by providing a toolkit for those who wish to organize their own celebration in a school, house of worship, community center, or virtually anywhere else. The toolkit helps event organizers explain and demonstrate the concept of dignity to an audience and includes suggestions for Dignity Workshops where participants can engage in the event’s message on a deeper level. The kit also includes a sample schedule of events, information on recruiting volunteers, fundraising advice, tips on documenting and sharing the event on social media, and strategies for keeping the momentum going afterwards.
Those who are particularly inspired by Global Dignity’s message can choose to become official Affiliates and play a more active role in promoting the organization’s Founding Principles. Doing so offers many benefits. One is access to an exclusive WhatsApp group. Members of the group can chat with one another about ideas for Dignity Day events, Global Dignity lesson plans, and much more.
Unifying Values in a Divided World
It often seems like there is much more that divides us than unifies us—even within one country, let alone across nations and cultures. However, Global Dignity celebrates perhaps the one core idea we can all agree on: we all deserve to live a life of dignity. This idea is powerful in its simplicity. The world becomes a better place when young people grow up with respect for themselves and each other. Global Dignity is helping to create that world today.