Dignity: Where is it, and where does it go?

What is dignity? Why do we sometimes lose it, and why do some have it taken away? Is dignity something we are born with or is it something that we earn or develop?

The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines dignity as “the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed, and it usually applies to someone with a “high rank, office, or position.”

The Oxford dictionary takes it a step further and defines it as “a sense of pride in oneself or self-respect.”

To understand the meaning of dignity, we must first understand mankind’s relationship with God. God, being the highest rank in my understanding of “dignified reverence,” would be the best person or idea to compare the dignified reverence of our human race.

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:26-27 NIV

His own image?

Dignity is something we are formed to mirror. Dignity is defined by something that we are. If we were made in the image of Dignity itself, then we have dignity when we are born. When we look at our reflection, we should see dignity shining through us.

Why do some feel dignity is lost or not present?

In an article posted by the Soka Gakkai International: Buddhism in Action for Peace website, “Ultimately, the Buddhist understanding of human dignity is rooted in the idea that we are able to CHOOSE the path of self-perfection.”

In other words, dignity is innately present in our makeup but we choose sometimes to deny or acknowledge it.  Whether it be because of trauma, or because of difficult moments in our lives, dignity exists whether we choose to see it or to be blind to it. Sometimes it is a difficult choice to make, but we can CHOOSE to determine our self-worth at any given moment IF we allow ourselves to.

Dignity belongs to oneself and can never be taken away

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” – Michael J. Fox in “Saving Milly” by Morton Kondrake.

Dignity is a part of us. Its hard to accept for some, but it is a truth we must find peace in. When we understand that it can never be taken away against our will, no matter what the circumstance, we can begin to find courage and hope in even the most difficult moments. Doubt may try to convince us otherwise, but WE know better.

I challenge you

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV

Today I challenge you to live in the dignity that has always existed since your creation or moment of existence. No matter who you are, where you are, and no matter what chapter you are in within the pages of your life’s book, you are a shining image of the Divine- celestial dignity and all. Own it. Live it.


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