Dignity

Rosa Parks, in her book Reflections by Rosa Parks described how she learned from her mother to have dignity.

But that’s all she said.

That word –Dignity—along with courage and independence—is exactly what I think of when I think of Rosa Parks.  I long to have the dignity she had.

She understood something I don’t.

In pursuit of greater dignity I searched for a book on the topic.

I found Dignity by Donna Hicks. She drew up a framework for dignity and made it understandable.

I want to have dignity and give dignity. I have not known how, but she outlined 10 steps. I’m lifting this from an article the author wrote for the Ikeda center posted here


Acceptance of Identity
Approach people as neither inferior nor superior to you; give others the freedom to express their authentic selves without fear of being negatively judged; interact without prejudice or bias, accepting how race, religion, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, disability, etc. are at the core of their identities. Assume they have integrity.

Recognition
Validate others for their talents, hard work, thoughtfulness, and help; be generous with praise; give credit to others for their contributions, ideas and experience.

Acknowledgment
Give people your full attention by listening, hearing, validating and responding to their concerns and what they have been through.

Inclusion
Make others feel that they belong at all levels of relationship (family, community, organization, nation).

Safety
Put people at ease at two levels: physically, where they feel free of bodily harm; and psychologically, where they feel free of concern about being shamed or humiliated, that they feel free to speak without fear of retribution.

Fairness
Treat people justly, with equality, and in an evenhanded way, according to agreed upon laws and rules.

Independence
Empower people to act on their own behalf so that they feel in control of their lives and experience a sense of hope and possibility.

Understanding
Believe that what others think matters; give them the chance to explain their perspectives, express their points of view; actively listen in order to understand them.

Benefit of the Doubt
Treat people as trustworthy; start with the premise that others have good motives and are acting with integrity.

Accountability
Take responsibility for your actions; if you have violated the dignity of another, apologize; make a commitment to change hurtful behaviors


This is my goal. I want to have the dignity Dr. Hicks describees. I want to give it. That’s the goal. I’m grateful to her for defining this precious character trait.

Independent of any specifics, I can point to these elements and know where my dignity stands or might be under attack.

And I can resist the attack with dignity. I can avoid the double loss by being strong in expressing my own dignity. I have the tools now.