According to Webster’s dictionary, the word dignity means the quality of being worthy of esteem or honor; worthiness; i.e. the quality being highly valued.
As people usually acquire their qualities during their lives, the definition above suggests that, for example, a child has less dignity than adult. The difficulty in defining this word is that on the one hand, it is used as a changing value (my dignity is always either increasing or decreasing), on the other hand, it is an infinite concept, which suggests that there is the highest worth of each person, and that even an infant has an equal same highest value of a man as an adult does.
Dignity is the highest human value of a man.
Dignity and the truth
Each person has a sense of worth or value, sense of the price of his personality, his dignity. Who am I? Am I worthy? What is my value? How much do I cost? What is my real price? What is my true value? What is the truth about me? Personality, its dignity, is at the center of attention in people’s community. The demeaning of the dignity is almost the only reason for a fight. Those who lost it will be humiliated and be outcast.
But what is genuine dignity of a man, his real price? The truth about a man is in this price.
Nothing is more significant than dignity for adults and children. Everything is related to dignity. The important thing is that there is the highest price for each man and for all men together. This price is – the truth. Therefore all people crave it. People need others to appreciate them by the very highest dignity, by the truth.
The genuine price of a man is the truth about him.
The truth about a man is that man is created for goodness, for infinitely increasing dignity. Everything that increase man’s dignity is goodness, everything that decreases it – evil. The line between goodness and evil is the truth. The truth is that this line exists. That is why people are sensitive about their dignity: each action of a man either elevates or demeans his own dignity or other people’s dignities.
Dignity and value
People give me estimation of what they think I am worthy. If they esteem me highly my dignity elevates and I feel good, goodness. If, on the contrary, they underestimate me, they give me lower price than my real value, I feel bad, evil. People evaluate what I deserve as a man and my dignity depends on that.
On the other hand, I myself have my own idea about me, I-image, about my price. I give my estimation on my worth and what I deserve, thus my self-esteem forms. Sometimes I value myself lower than people think I worth (I sell myself cheap), sometimes I value myself higher than people think I am. There is lot of self-help books toward increasing self-esteem.
It seems like we are at a market place. Everyone are subjects of sale and comparison. But dignity has nothing to do with the trading because infinite concepts don’t act with finite concepts. Dignity as the highest human value is an infinite goal to strive for.
Dignity and goodness
To do goodness to a man means to increase his dignity. Why it hurts when someone disrespect me? It is because respect elevates my value, my dignity; disrespect humiliates. When parents ask their teenagers for respect, they actually ask their children to do goodness to their parents. Unfortunately, when relationships are already too bad, disrespect is mutual. Teenagers especially need their dignities to be highly appreciated. They crave for their parents’ respect, not in return for their respect, but for the sake of their dignities as a highest value of a man. If parents don’t understand this fact and continue to complain, to accuse, to blame, they continue to encroach upon their children’s dignities. They continue doing the opposite to goodness, i.e. evil. Thus, from both sides people dig the tunnels of evil.
Instead, asking for forgiveness is the first step to begin doing goodness to other person, to increase the other person’s dignity. Thankfulness is another act of goodness. Admiration, care, excitement about another person, these actions are parts of love, which is the greatest goodness.
The difficulty in human relationships comes from the fact that there are two related movements: from man to the world, and from the world to man. If from childhood a man’s dignity is guarded, he forms the right image of himself, and of the world. I am OK, and you are OK. However, the humiliation of human dignity begins in childhood and people get used to it, they acquire low self-esteem and learn to not value other people as well. Thus, from generations to generations, as a contagious disease, human dignity continues to be encroached and desperately needs a defense.
Dignity and freedom
Society is free when it has free people. People are free when they learned the truth about themselves, when they carry the truth with dignity, when they are internally free. Internal freedom is freedom from fear to be judged, to be charged a low price, freedom from doubts about dignity.
The only fear internally free man does have is fear to lose his honor. Free man is afraid to go against his conscience.
When I encroach upon another man, I receive an internal message of doing something wrong, doing evil. This message about what is good and what is evil is called conscience.
However, when someone is encroaching upon me or other people, the same message about the violation of the justice raises in me the feeling of indignation, as if my own dignity was encroached.
Society knows freedom when its people know dignity.
By A.Aubanova, 2006