Man’s quest for dignity

By Tom Quiner

Protestors in Cairo

As I write this, a million people fill Cairo’s Tahir Square. They protest corruption, poverty, and tyranny. They long for freedom.

They thirst for human dignity.

The international media covers the story with bated breath. Will the demonstrators turn violent?  Several dozen have already died.


The media largely ignored the March for Life. (Photo provided by Bo Bishop.)

Last week, 400,000 marched for Life in Washington D.C. Untold thousands marched and prayed elsewhere in America. All told, who knows, a million people may have been involved.

They marched peacefully, joined by 53 members of Congress, including one Democrat. They marched in the name of the right of a human being to be born. They marched prayerfully that the government overturn laws that trample on human dignity, laws that allow abortion to take place without regulation or restraint.

In an exercise of self-censorship, the mainstream media largely ignored the story.


Mass at Victory Square, June 2nd, 1979

Thirty-two years ago, a million people gathered in Victory Square in the heart of communist Warsaw, Poland. They gathered peacefully to pray the Mass with the newly elected Pope, John Paul II.

The first Slavic Pope peered across the humanity-packed mall and fixed his gaze on the tomb of the unknown soldier:

“I wish to kneel before this tomb to venerate every seed that falls into the earth and dies and thus bears fruit. It may be the seed of the blood of a soldier shed on the battlefield, or the sacrifice of martyrdom in concentration camps or in prisons. It may be the seed of hard daily toil, with the sweat of one’s brow, in the fields, the workshop, the mine, the foundries and the factories. It may be the seed of the love of parents who do not refuse to give life to a new human being and undertake the whole of the task of bringing him up. It may be the seed of creative work in the universities, the higher institutes, the libraries and the places where the national culture is built. It may be the seed of prayer, of service of the sick, the suffering, the abandoned—’all that of which Poland is made’.”

John Paul II addressed the essence of human dignity:

“Christ,” he said, “is the key to understanding that great and fundamentalreality that is man. For man cannot be fully understood without Christ. Or rather, man is incapable of understanding himself fully without Christ. He cannot understand who he is, nor what his true dignity is, nor what his vocation is, nor what his final end is. He cannot understand any of this without Christ.”

As with the march for life, censorship limited coverage of the Pope’s visit to Poland. Unlike the march for life, though, press coverage was limited by the government, not the media itself.


What does it all mean? Ultimately, each man knows inside that he or she counts for something. Inside, we all know that human life is somehow vitally important. From Cairo to Warsaw to Washington D.C. we march in the name of human dignity. Cairo could turn ugly. We pray not.

But I think John Paul spoke for the protester in Cairo as well as the baby in the womb when he used the metaphor of a seed.

A single drop of blood of a soldier could bear fruit.

The seed of daily toil is dignified and can bear rich fruit.

The seed of parents’ love who do not refuse life are the essence of human dignity.

All that is what life is made of.

Human life matters.

Things go terribly wrong when we forget that.