Let’s begin with a principle, and with a life.
The principle—at the center of the thinking of Jesus and Hillel
and Mohammad and Confucius, of Plato and Homer, at the heart of the
Declaration of Independence—expressed here as Article 1 of the 1948
Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born free
and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and
conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of
brotherhood.” And we might add sisterhood.
And the life: Here is a woman living in the “global south.” She
is forty-two years old, mother of six children, three of whom are
still alive, and grandmother of eight. She subsists on $1 a day,
sleeps in a shelter without electricity or plumbing, arises each
morning to begin again the never-ending search for clean water, food,
and fuel. She is single and illiterate, and she has never seen a
doctor. She has recently developed a tumor in her neck that gives her
How should we think of this woman in light of this principle? What should we do?