Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.
Last update: 15 November 2021
Dignity is not the result of pride, it is a precious asset that we cannot afford to give to others or lose lightly. Dignity is self-esteem, self-respect and health. It is also the force that lifts us off the ground when we have broken our wings, hoping to reach a distant point where nothing hurts, where we can once again afford to look at the world with our heads held high.
We could safely say that nowadays few words have as much importance as the one that gives the title to this article. It was Ernesto Sabato who said a few years ago that, apparently, the dignity of the human person was not foreseen in this globalized world. We can all see it every day, our society is increasingly articulated in a structure in which we are slowly losing more and more rights, more opportunities and even freedoms.
"Beyond pain and joy, there is the dignity of being"
However, and this is interesting to keep in mind, there are many philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and writers who try to offer us strategies to shape what they call the "age of dignity". In fact, they believe that the time has come to define themselves, to make our voices heard and to work on our strengths to find greater satisfaction in our surrounding environment and generate significant change in this increasingly unequal society.
Personality like Robert W. Fuller, physicist, diplomat and educator, have put a term into play that we will undoubtedly begin to hear more often. This is "rankism". This term includes all those behaviors that day after day are taking away our dignity: being intimidated by third parties (partners, bosses, co-workers), being harassed, sexism and even becoming a victim of the social hierarchy.
All of us, at some point in our life, have felt that we have lost our dignity. Whether it was because of an abusive relationship or because we did a poorly paid job, these are still situations with a high personal cost. Demanding a change, putting ourselves on our side and fighting for our rights will never be an act of pride, but an expression of our daring to be courageous.
Dignity in the work of Kazuo Ishiguro
Lo British writer of Japanese descent Kazuo Ishiguro won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. The general public knows in particular one of his novels, “What remains of the day“, a work from which a truly exceptional film was also made. The strangest thing is that not everyone understands what the central argument of this meticulous, sometimes maddening, but always magnificent book is.
We might think that "What remains of the day" is about a love story. Of a cowardly love and of barriers for which lovers never get to touch their skin and the pupils are lost elsewhere, in any other place than the loved one. Perhaps we can deduce that the book is the story of a house and its inhabitants, masters and servants, and of how a nobleman, Lord Darlington, seeks the friendship of the Nazis in the face of the passivity of his butler, witness of his master's betrayal to homeland.
We could say this and much more, because it is the magic of books. However "What remains of the day" speaks of dignity. The dignity of the character who is the narrator and who, in turn, is the protagonist of the story, Mr. Stevens, butler of Darlington Hall.
The whole novel is a pure defense mechanism, a continuous attempt at justification. We are faced with a person who feels worthy and honored for the work he does, but this work is nothing more than the reflection of the crudest and most absolute servitude, where there is no room for reflection, for doubt, for recognition. of their emotions and even less for love.
However, there is a moment when the image of the "great butler" crumbles. During dinner one of Lord Darlington's guests begins to ask Mr. Stevens a series of questions to demonstrate the complete ignorance of the lower classes. A direct attack on his "I", in which the butler steps aside to make room for the man wounded, who never had dignity and who lived hidden under an armor. The man who denied himself true love to serve others.
Recover and strengthen their dignity
It is certainly curious to see how the outside observer, the reader who travels from page to page in books like "What remains of the day", immediately realizes how a particular person is being manipulated or how he is weaving a laborious self- deception to justify every inexplicable act in their eyes. We too can find ourselves doing jobs very similar to those of the butler of Darlington Hall.
“Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in the awareness of deserving them”.
We can find ourselves giving everything out of love, for that harmful, toxic and even debilitating relationship. Sometimes we love with closed eyes and open hearts, without realizing that this bond is destroying all the fabric of our self-esteem thread by thread.. Maybe we have been doing this badly paid job for a long time, in which we are not appreciated, letting life and dignity slip away… But what do you want to do with it, times are what they are and it is always better a known evil than an empty bank account.
We must wake up, we said at the beginning, this should be the era of dignity, in which we all must remember our worth, our strength, our right to have a better life, to be worthy of what we want and we need. Saying it out loud, setting limits, closing doors to open others and defining ourselves in front of others is not an act of pride or selfishness..
We avoid losing our individuality, we stop justifying the unjustifiable and we avoid being part of this cog that turns off our virtues and our wonderful personalities day after day. Stop being subjects of unhappiness to create with our hands and our will.