“Human dignity” is often the starting point for discussions of Catholic Social Teaching. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops explains “that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision of society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching.” Increasingly, solidarity is the starting for discussions of Catholic Social Teaching. When the conversation starts with solidarity, emphasis is placed on the interrelatedness of every human person, that we do not exist alone but as part of one human family. Of course, these two principles are not mutually exclusive and, in fact, reinforce one another.
Mark Horvath started a project designed to make visible the “invisible people.” He interviews people who are currently homeless and posts these conversations on-line, via YouTube and his blog, http://invisiblepeople.tv/blog/. As he explains on his website, “Everyone on the streets has their own story, some made bad decisions, others were victims, but none of them deserve what they have been left with, and it is a reflection on our own society that we just leave them there.” Although Horvath’s project is not religious in any way, this insight sheds light on the fundamental connection between human dignity and solidarity. No one deserves to live on the street. Such a life is an affront to human dignity. Hrovath’s project may provide a first step toward entering into personal relationship with those who are “invisible” and, ultimately, will lead to a greater sense of solidarity and, subsequently, broader changes in society.
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Associate Professor, Religious Studies