Monday, October 2, 2017

Human Rights Competency #2-2: Respects My Morality


In the dominant culture, some of us are considered incapable of appreciating the consequences of our actions.  Others feel justified to overwrite our judgement and impose their own vision of what is best for us.

The mental health system is largely complicit in this.  Little attempt is made to understand or address the cultural dynamics that make colonization of personhood so attractive.  Nor is much effort put into supporting all concerned to address conflicting interests while keeping rights in tact.
  
The human rights paradigm again is very different: 
  • Everyone has rational capacities
  • Everyone can learn from experience
  • Everyone is entitled to decide what they care about
  • No one gets to overwrite someone else's values or priorities
  • Others can offer their assistance, but we aren't obligated to accept.
  • Everyone is required to respect the rights of others.
  • Everyone has a conscience to guide them toward what matters most

To put it another way:

We all have the dignity of risk, which goes hand in hand with the right to try and fail.  Taking risks and assuming responsibilities is how learning happens. That is how values and priorities become clear. That is how rational capacities and conscience develop. 

If there ever was a time in history where it was important to support these principles, it is now.The disenfranchisement of human agency and conscience is not health and it is not well being.  It ratifies some of the most damaging power abuses of the modern industrial age.   The lion's share of resources and the authority to manage them are highly concentrated.  There are relatively few decision-makers, and they are largely free to vote their own self-interest.  The average person has ceded their conscience in return for the basic necessities of life. People believe they have no choice and no power to make a difference.  The predictable consequence is apathy, cynicism and demoralization.  This corrupting  of the moral fabric of humankind is perhaps the greatest danger to health we face today.  Legitimate mental health services should be countering this trend, not encouraging it.  The average person needs support and resourcing to resist such colonization in the face of overwhelming odds.  That is what professionals should be offering.

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