Our Test of Human Dignity

By Rich Harwood

I feel utter disbelief, rage and profound sadness as I watch the negotiations unfold between Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. I am ashamed of many of our political leaders and sick to my stomach. We can disagree about who should sit on the U.S. Supreme Court—but a basic test of human dignity now stares us in the face. We must not fail.

None of us can fully know yet if Dr. Ford’s accusations are true. But this much we can be certain of: here is an individual who stepped forward at great risk, who seeks to tell her story, and all the Judiciary Committee and its echo chamber can do is to create one humiliating obstacle after another for her to endure. They have dropped her in a hole and repeatedly ask her to scrape her way out in front of the world.

Indeed so many U.S. Senators and others have failed to understand—no, refuse even to try to understand—anything about trauma and its effects. Instead, they relentlessly raise doubts about apparent gaps in Dr. Ford’s memory, or that she can’t identify the time and place of the alleged incident, or question her personal credibility. These are nothing more than disingenuous shots to discredit Dr. Ford. These purveyors of darkness seek to bury her alive.

I understand that this situation is riddled by politics. Much is at stake. The Supreme Court’s balance of power for the next generation or more is up for grabs. So, too, is Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s reputation.

But imagine someone you know coming forth with a claim such as Dr. Ford’s, and then being publicly manhandled as she has. Imagine that this person you know was told they must sit before a dais, made up of mostly hostile men, who openly seek to bludgeon her over her concerns. Imagine that at each turn allies of these political leaders—from powerful friends to TV commentators to political operatives—seek to personally destroy this individual you know.

The pursuit of the truth is nowhere to be found here.

Even more troubling to me is the rotting of human dignity we are witnessing. And the problem, of course, is that this hollowing out is not just happening in our nation’s capital, it happens each and everyday to people among us. Increasingly, we fail to see and hear one another, especially those who are different from us. We label people, making use of one political, social or racial tag or another, so that we do not need to truly understand others. We are too quick to demonize other people’s concerns.

Our politics is broken and desperately needs fixing. But first, importantly, we must rededicate ourselves to human dignity.

Human dignity is non-negotiable. It is not earned, nor gained over time, nor afforded due to one’s financial status. No, human dignity is a birthright.

We must not wait for our political leaders. They will follow the rest of us. That’s almost always how large-scale change begins. Let us place human dignity back at the top of our shared agenda—and let us make it real for each and every individual. The time to start is right now.