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The Great Rehumanization


The future of humanity depends on a great movement of rehumanization. This is a vast claim, but I believe it to be true and don’t make it lightly.

What is rehumanization? Rehumanization is an effort to reverse the effects of dehumanization by restoring human dignity, helping each and every person develop a healthy sense of self, and reprioritizing people above money, objects, systems, and institutions.


Rehumanization is about learning to be human again, which may sound strange, but it’s amazing how often and in how many ways the average person experiences dehumanization.


Dehumanization takes many forms. Some things are dehumanizing by their very nature, for example, violence, slavery, abuse, injustice, torture, poverty, sexual abuse, discrimination, gossip, objectification and genocide. There are many other things that can be dehumanizing, such as: work, technology, debt, humor, laws, entertainment, social media, and even education or consensual sex.


Anytime the value and individuality of a person are being denied, that person is being dehumanized. And the more someone has been dehumanized, the more that person will operate out of the primal tendencies of fight-or-flight.


The process of rehumanization reminds us what it means to be an individual of worth. It rekindles a healthy sense of personal identity and helps us rediscover our humanity.


Rehumanization is about learning to see ourselves and others as human again. It may sound ridiculous, but you would be amazed at how many ways we have been conditioned not to see ourselves as human beings. One of the most blatant and common examples is our inability to express our needs. To be human is to need, and yet, we have been conditioned to believe that it is not alright to need certain things.


In order to see and value the humanity of another person we have to be able to see and value our own humanity. Learning to accept that we are wounded and broken is essential to the process of rehumanization. Discovering your own brokenness and realizing that you can be put back together and healed to become more beautiful and more lovable than ever before is the summit of rehumanization.


Human beings with a healthy sense of self, when their basic needs are met and their survival is not threatened, want good things for other people. Anyone who wishes another person unhappiness or harm, anyone who doesn’t desire good for others, is in a dehumanized condition. Emotionally healthy human beings desire good for each other. At our best, we are kind, well-meaning, generous, compassionate, benevolent, thoughtful, sensitive, tender, warmhearted, and empathic.


Empathy is a leading indicator of human flourishing, while lack of empathy is a signal that a person is in a dehumanized state. Empathy is the natural condition for a human being who is mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. This is what it means to be humane.

It is time to turn our efforts toward the great rehumanization of the human family. It’s time to focus on things that support humanization. It’s time to celebrate those things that bring out the best in people.

Matthew Kelly

From Life is Messy

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