“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.” ~ Michael J. Fox …
Whether we keep our dignity, or surrender it, can only be done on our own terms–no one can take it away from us without our consent. If you think about it… there really is nothing in life that anyone can take from us if we do not allow them.
When Nelson Mandela was thrown into prison for leading protests against the South African government’s segregation policies in 1962, he kept his dignity and he held onto hope. Rather than expressing anger or allowing his unjust imprisonment to derail his inner balance, he held on to his beliefs that his time in prison served a greater purpose.
And when Thoreau was jailed for not paying his poll tax, he was amazed that they thought they had taken away his freedom. He wrote, “I did not for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar.” If he had allowed himself to feel as if they had taken his freedom, then it would be so–he would have lost it. Yet since he refused to surrender his freedom, he still held on to it even while locked away in a jail.
There are, of course, some individuals, who out of their own insecurity, try to hurt others and to take away their dignity and self-respect. But what does that say about us if we let such a cruel and insecure person do so? Many individuals have kept their dignity when faced with grave financial loss, public humiliation, bodily harm, and even death, such as Anne Frank in the concentration camps of Germany, and Louis Zamperini in the prison camps of Japan during World War II. Shouldn’t we, too, hold on to ours? Nobody can shave your head in your absence!
Build up your self-respect and never sacrifice your dignity.
Questions to consider:
How do you define your sense of dignity? How do you describe your resolve to keep it?
Think of some individuals you have seen lose their dignity? What happened to make them lose it?
What might cause you to surrender your own dignity? How can you strengthen your ability not to do so?
For further thought:
“Knowing when to walk away is wisdom. Being able to is courage. Walking away, with your head held high is dignity.” ~ Sallie Felton