I’m late with the posting this week. I’ve been reflecting on a word that’s brilliant with the light and warmth of one hundred thousand candles. Dignity. I am learning more and more about this word every day. Here is my definition (I did not ask Merriam-Webster about it).
As human beings, we are born with the right to see ourselves in the best light through our own eyes. Dignity is our birthright. When we are unable to uphold our own vision of our best selves, we project our smallness of vision onto others and try to “bully” them into seeing themselves as we see ourselves—without dignity.
It’s almost Christmas. I’m into one of those looking inside places that makes some people hang up the phone with a “see ya’ later.” Perhaps it’s the long, cold and dark days leading up to the solstice that has me wrapped in the warmth of this word that is wholly connected to respect. Perhaps it’s the memories of all the times someone tried to strip away my vision of my best self through my own eyes. Perhaps it’s just that, with the approach of the solstice and the New Year, I do what I always do every year. I pull out my journal and reflect on the passing year and the changes–large and small–that have pushed me to growth. Have I stayed true to my values? Have I been able to give each person, including me, the space to see her best self through her own eyes? Have I given away my vision of my own best self? Have I been respectful of the planet and its resources? Have I dispersed joy and encouraged dignity, or have I contributed to fear and uncertainty?
I am trying to cut back on my addiction to the “news,” and I try not to dive into the political on this blog. But I’m going to take a bend in the road this evening because I feel like it; and because it’s my blog.
It doesn’t matter whether a person is pro- or anti-abortion, pro- or anti-death penalty, gay or straight, a man or woman, a Democrat or Republican, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist. If a person cannot carry his words of life in a way that supports dignity in all people, he is using up precious oxygen and stripping away someone’s vision of her best self through her own eyes. I say, save the oxygen.
Dignity. The right to see ourselves in the best light through our own eyes.
The days before the winter holy days are a perfect time to re-affirm a committment to treat every person with dignity and respect through the next year. It’s a challenge, right? So, what else is new?
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a historic talk on December 6 before the United Nations on the rights of LGBT individuals throughout the world. And while her emphasis was on this particular struggle, I took away the moving lesson around which she weaved her message: it is the absolute right of every single person to be treated with and live his or her life in dignity and respect. You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MudnsExyV78
This is my continuing goal for the New Year. Yours?