Giving and Getting Dignity

Dignity is an internal state of peace that comes with the recognition and acceptance of the value and vulnerability of all living things.  – Donna Hicks

I love this definition of dignity.  Dignity is an important aspect of my practice as a Humanist.  I aspire to conduct myself with dignity and to give and and acknowledge the dignity of others.

It's an odd thing - to talk about giving dignity.  But when you accept the value and vulnerability of other people, you help them, see themselves as a person with dignity.

And that's an incredibly valuable gift. Because - not everyone feels like they have dignity. I am always amazed at how people change how they carry themselves after I acknowledge their existence as a human who I think has dignity.

So - what is dignity, why does it matter?  As with all things. Dignity is something you do for you. It's an internal state of peace that comes with the recognition that all living things and some non-living things have value and are vulnerable.

When you get this - it does provide a state of internal peace.  You have no doubt about who you are and why you are and the actions of others, can't take that away from you.

The giving of dignity, helps share that love around.  I had the privilege of talking with Dr. Hicks about leading with dignity ( and it really has changed how I think and talk about this aspect of Humanism.  I used to talk about respect. But she is right, that doesn't quite capture it. Dignity is what we are talking about.

So - your exercise for the week is to contemplate what dignity means to you. What it feels like to be a dignified person and what it means to acknowledge the dignity of the people you meet in the course of your day. 

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