To Give Dignity to a Man

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.

3 thoughts on “To Give Dignity to a Man

  1. I personally need to mull this one over a bit, as it hasn’t “clicked” yet, though this post seems to stir something within me.

    I also thought about those that have self discipline and i see it can also go the other way.
    Those that believe others should live up to their standards of self discipline and expectations.
    That can be good at some times but bad at others.

    But i suppose it’s what makes or breaks a society.

  2. One who practices personal self-discipline can extend dignity to others who do not without causing them to feel “less than.” I have been on both sides of that equation.

  3. From a biblical perspective this makes a whole lot of sense. It’s the same kind of enabling i see God the Father giving us.
    Dignity paired with a whole lot of Love and Compassion.

    I wonder if those that make others feel “less than” can be called bullies?

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