What relation has the perception of man as a value to environmental problems or their resolution?
There are different ideas about the idea of man as a value. According to an opinion, the value is not expressed in itself, but in relation to man by which the man, being his own appraiser, is self-proclaimed as a value. And the declaration of a man as a supreme value brings the approval of the existence of lower or lowest values.
According to a secular, humanistic point of view, man and his rights are a value. In a similar approach during the Renaissance, the man was regarded as a value with anthropocentrism, which confirms that man is a center of everything, and by ascribing human virtues and talent only to the man, neglecting the effect of the divine grace, affirming that the man himself is the creator of his own fate.
Perhaps because of the above-mentioned position today in the world, with reference to human rights, Christian moral values are ignored, as those who adhere to such a position can admit the right of a man to satisfy his own needs even if they contradict Christian morality. In the new era, for the sake of the human as a value and his rights they can even give another “Christian” interpretation of morality which is evident in the Western countries and in the activities of the churches established there.
In other words, man is a value because he is carrying the supreme value of human life. In this approach, the approvals of a man as a value and human life as a value are identified, and the conclusion is that human life is the value. This is in line with the view expressed in Christianity about human life as the supreme value. However, human life does not exist by itself but it is real in a man, through a man. In this sense, we can say that a man is a value.
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred, and the dignity of the human person is the basis of the moral vision for the society. In the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, in section 363 of the 6th paragraph, under the subheading “Man” the following is recorded.
The term “soul” in the Bible often refers to human life or to the whole human person. But the “soul” also refers to the person’s inner side which is the greatest value in him and by which the man expresses his divine image. Thus, “soul” means the spiritual beginning of man.
Only the official point of view of the Catholic Church is cited here, as the Orthodox Churches, as well as the Armenian Apostolic Church, do not have catechisms as formally confirmed instructions of Christian faith. However, this teaching of the Catholic Church on a man is an expression of common Christian doctrine. Accordingly, we can say that from a Christian point of view man is a value with his God-given life, with his divine image, and also the spirituality.
The perception of the human as a value is related to the environmental problems and their solution as follows. Damage to the environment brings a person and his life into danger. People are frequently ignored by large exploiters of nature. In addition, the benefits of natural wealth are considered higher than humans.
For example, miners extract minerals from the earth’s subsoil. The mine owners do nothing if they are shareholders or they are engaged in the organization of the work, which, in comparison with the hard work of miners, is an easy, although necessary occupation.
The mine owners receive the largest profits from the mines. The miners, in comparison with this profit, with the hard work only manage to meet the vital needs of themselves and their families. The mine owners are wealthy, whereas the miners, working under their authority, work for daily bread, endangering their health and even life.
In this example, wealthy mine owners can make a permanent dividend of earnings to hard workers to increase the standard of living for them and their families. But many do not make such “luxury”. They are primarily interested in the material benefits for what they use not only nature but also the human and human lives. Around the mines and minerals processing plants the environment and the health of the residents are damaged. In this case, for the sake of benefit, not only employees but also the surrounding inhabitants are ignored.
Exploitation of nature, the gains of which are useful for the people, is also commonly done with the neglect of people, as often it pursues the material interests rather than the noble and virtuous aspiration to benefit humanity and the world.
In such situations, a man or a human life turns from value into a means. Man becomes a tool for the acquisition of profits. A person is used for different purposes that are appreciated more than the person who is viewed merely as a means to achieve the desired benefits. Thus, the value of a person is destroyed for the sake of the material; the living person turns into the means of the material values which are venerated more than human beings and human lives.
That is why the existence of misery and poverty in the societies impugns the presence of the perception of human or human life as a value in the modern world. A super-evaluation of work, result, and profit and for this purpose the employers’ opinion about employees as a means, without special attention, care and efforts to improve their living standards and well-being, is an evidence of humiliation and exploitation of a person created in a divine image, with a material preference.
The Christian principle “love one another” (John 13:34) and its realization is the confirmation of the value of the human and human life, a concern of which is favorable also for nature and the environment.