The Nathaniel Centre was named after Nathaniel Knoef who was born on 12 December 1998 and died less than two months later on 2 February 1999. He was diagnosed at birth with incurable health problems and his parents faced many ethical issues associated with his care. His short life provides us with many of the faces of human dignity; the dignity of birth and new life, the dignity of those living with a life-limiting illness, the dignity of compassionate care, the dignity of unconditional parental and family love and the dignity of those who are dying.
In this themed issue we acknowledge again the gift of Nathaniel to his family, the New Zealand Church and beyond with 12 pieces from 12 different perspectives, all of which relate to the theme of dignity. We are grateful to all of our contributors:
William Michael: Our moral lives are an aspect of our ordinary lives that should astonish. We must treat persons always as ends in themselves.
Jonathan Boston: Every part of creation possesses a God-given intrinsic dignity and harming the environment robs human beings of their dignity.
Heather McLeod: We need to shape a new understanding of ‘ars moriendi’ – the art of dying – if we are to maintain ‘dying with dignity’.
Gerard Burns: Economic rationalism is bringing about a cultural shift in the perception of worth.
John Fox: It is tempting to mistake money, sex, power, health, youth and strength as the basis of being human.
Sinead Donnelly: Dignity is an interactive process between the dying and their caretakers that exists in spaces that are co-created.
Bernard Leuthart: Imagination brought to bear on our human engagements helps us delve into the dignity at the heart of our encounters.
Rachel Kleinsman: Art has the ability to either diminish human dignity or uphold it through its power to make the tragic concept more endurable.
Colin McLeod: Through digital technology a new ‘normal’ and relentless ‘change’ is unfolding, impacting on dignity in positive and negative ways.
Anne Tuohy: When the role of education is degraded, the intrinsic value of society and its members can likewise be diminished.
Julie Guirgis: Dementia can be spiteful and cruel – when I reflect on who my Dad was before, it helps me separate him from the illness.
We hope that each of you finds something in this issue to stimulate and challenge, as well as something to smile about and be grateful for.