Human dignity and life are not only sacred—in fact, respect for human life and dignity is a baseline for our humanity. As Palestinians, the word “dignity” reflects many aspects of life: our way of living, pride and commitment in our work, and a reputation of integrity and uprightness among everyone who knows us. However, when Palestinians are made to cross checkpoints or borders and treated with disrespect and even violence, we are literally de-humanized. The occupation threatens our sacred human right to life with dignity.
26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
27 So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
The story of creation testifies to God’s love for every living thing, but especially God’s love and purpose for humankind. Humans are the ones for whom the land, water, animals, and plants are created. At the same time, we humans are given the sacred responsibility to care for creation as the agents of God. In Genesis, these verses about God’s intentions and hopes for humanity are followed by the story of Adam and Eve: the beginning of human sin and rebellion against God. Through sin, human life and dignity lose their holiness. Again and again, through the centuries, people have treated carelessly the very creation for which we were made to take special care. Killing, slavery, and countless other violations of God’s will have appeared throughout human history. But because God is not only the author of creation but also the redeemer and sustainer of creation, God remains present—in days past and days to come—to declare that human dignity and life will also fight against the loss of life or dignity.
Palestinians nowadays are searching for their dignity, working hard to keep the lives of their children, youth, adults, and elders safe and respectful. The occupation causes many conflicts that work against these efforts. Families are separated by the diaspora created by expulsion and immigration, by arrests, or by the separation wall. Every day, Palestinian people are harmed and deprived of rights and opportunities. Unfortunately, this suffering is also common in many other places worldwide. Wherever it occurs, the suffering of people grieves the heart of God.
Amid injustice, how can human beings reclaim lost dignity and maintain safe and secure lives? The solution is for all people to recognize themselves and their neighbours as made in the image of God, created in God’s likeness, and deserving of dignity and life. Only then will humanity become as sacred as it is meant to be.
1. What does it mean for you and for others to be made in the image of God?
2. What does the word dignity mean in your context?
Heavenly Father, how great are your deeds on earth and your great blessings upon us. As we, O Lord, go through the difficulties and challenges of this life, may we continue to believe that you are with us and that you accompany us and love us. May we consider that human life and dignity are the foundation and essence of this world. O Lord, protect us always, and help us keep this great blessing in our lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.