Thinking About Dignity
Dignity is defined as “bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.” Dignity is what you desire from all others. And dignity is what all others desire from you. Dignity is a gift. And like any other gift that’s given, dignity must be received, in order to be appreciated.
Meaning, you can’t give dignity behind closed doors. You must give it out in the open where the one to whom you are extending dignity can receive it. Also, out in the open where others can witness the dignity that you have given to someone else.
Dignity is also a personal thing. Something that you can give to yourself. Even if nobody else will give it to you. Holding your head high. Being yourself, unashamedly. Doing what is right, even when all others do what is wrong. This is the gift of dignity that you give to yourself. Yet, even this self-gift of dignity is still truly a gift to the others around you.
“There is a healthful hardiness about real dignity that never dreads contact and communion with others, however humble.” (Washington Irving)
“There is a proper dignity and proportion to be observed in the performance of every act of life.” (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus)
“Without dignity, identity is erased” (Laura Hillenbrand)
“What we say and what we do ultimately comes back to us so let us own our responsibility, place it in our hands, and carry it with dignity and strength.” (Gloria E. Anzaldua)
“An injured lion still wants to roar. It is about dignity and self-esteem which isn’t quite the same as vanity.” (Randy Pausch)
God gives you the dignity of choice. The dignity to make up your own mind, to make your own decision and to go your own way. Even if that way is away from God.
God is the creator and originator of self-respect. God created you and placed you in this world, at this time. God hasn’t shielded you from the world. No special bubble of protection for any of us. For that kind of shielding wouldn’t be love. For love can only be found in choice. And allowing each of us to have the freedom of choice is the most dignified thing that God could do.
God has shown all of us the dignity of free will. The dignity to live in this world. But also, the dignity to make the choice to not live of this world.