Monday, October 2, 2017

Human Rights Competency #2-3: Sees My Personhood

In the human rights paradigm, we don't necessarily have to have the same perspectives or understanding of life.  It is okay if people see things differently.  It is also okay for someone to hold fast to their beliefs even if a lot of other people disagree.

Diverse perspectives are appreciated

We all have a voice
We all get a vote
We all want to be heard
We all need to listen.

This is what it  means to have personhood.

I can often come to an appreciation of someone else's perspective simply by putting myself in their shoes.  It helps to ask myself a question like this:

 If I saw the facts the way this person sees them, and experienced what they have experienced around this issue, what would it be like for me?  

From there, I try to use imagination and empathy to project how I might feel in their situation. A lot of times the outcome surprises me.  I sometimes begin to see life from a vantage point that never would have occurred to me.


Conflicting needs are negotiated

Sometimes conflicting perceptions result in conflicting needs.  For example, a lot of times I get into it with someone.  It takes me a while to recognize that both of us might want to be 'right' about the 'facts.'

Here's where we maybe have to get a bit creative.  Maybe both of us really believe we are calling it the way we saw it.  Well, then, that's a dead end because neither of us has the right to over rule the other.

On the other hand, if we get a little creative we can find a way to offer something that feels a lot like being 'right.'


  1. We can offer each other respect and regard. 
  2. We can allow that it's theoretically possible that we misperceived or misinterpreted something
  3. We can vouch that we believe the other person is sincere in their belief
  4. We can explore what's so scary for both of us about seeing things differently
  5. We can open to the possibility that there is more than one reality - so we both really might be right
  6. We can commit that we won't ever put each other down or allow each other to be shut out just because we didn't see something the same way....

In a word, human rights gives us a lot of options.  In my experience, there are about a zillion ways to validate someone else's humanity. Pretty much all it takes is for me to be sincere in wanting to. 

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