For years there has been a particular picture of a Native American Indian hanging in my study. It was given to me as a gift so long ago, I’m embarrassed to say, that I no longer remember who gave it to me. From the moment I saw it the picture and its caption captivated me. May this acknowledgement serve as a long overdue thank you to whomever was my benefactor.
The caption reads:
To give dignity to a man is above all things.
– Indian Proverb
That immediately struck a chord with something deep inside me. A value that has always guided me, but which I’d never previously had words to express. I’ve often pondered the aphorism over the years, but an entirely new aspect of its truth hit me recently.
It is safe to say that our society is woefully lacking in the bestowing of dignity one to another. But I have finally noticed an erosion of my own dignity over the last several years; an erosion that has ebbed in concert with the gradual loosening of self-discipline.
I’m just beginning to grasp the profundity of this connection between self-control and personal dignity. It is clear to me, however, that a society which devalues self-control and bitterly resents any efforts at external control will suffer from a woeful deficit of dignity. And anyone lacking personal dignity is practically incapable of giving it to another.
Because I’m committed to extending dignity to all I meet, I hereby resolve to renew the self-disciplines which I have let lapse over the preceding 12 years.
The concept of dignity and its connection to the image of God merits further exploration, so I will revisit this topic in the future.