Dignity is a virtue that shows externally and felt internally. It’s not pomposity nor a façade. We recognize a person with dignity right away.

One of the most dignified persons I’ve ever had the privilege to meet was my former partner’s mother. Noriko was a woman with the demeanor of Japanese high society. Her grace and elegance was befitting an Empress. Even though she was not related to the Emperor’s family. Her humility and friendliness put others at ease and garnered great respect. Takeo’s mother had schooled herself in the finer social arts, yet exuded warm, loving compassion. She was the family matriarch but did not lord over others.

Moriko had a lovely depth of wisdom and character. She was serene as a result of daily meditation. She was courteous and polite, but not to a fault. Moriko was attentive to others, serious when appropriate, yet also had a graceful sense of humor. People always treated her with great respect.

I was fortunate to have another Japanese woman as a part of my early childhood. My parents chose Kimiko as a part time caretaker and babysitter when mom needed extra help in mothering. I only know of Kimiko from the stories that mom told me when I grew older. Mom said Kimiko was a beautiful young lady with a lot of dignity; she used to treat me as if I was a prince.

Many of us were taught a way to live that fosters better living. One of my great uncles advised me to tackle the most difficult tasks first thing in the morning. Pay attention and respect to family and friends at all times. Better yet, treat everybody with respect and dignity. End each day with the same constructive attitude. This will keep you from wallowing in cynicism and negativity.

Back in the 1970s, when gay liberation made itself a movement to be reckoned with, I found myself carried along by its positive energy and beauty. That was also the time when people like Anita Bryant helped birth the anti-gay faction of Americans. Those were times when my self-respect came and went much like high and low tide.

One day, a Roman Catholic friend invited me to attend a support group for lesbians and gays called “Dignity USA”. I was assured that the guys wouldn’t try to convert me to Catholicism, but that I might take away something valuable. Due to the fact that the Vatican has a checkered history regarding its relationship to our community perhaps I could learn how Catholic gays cope as a group.

The one meeting I attended was more or less a social gathering with an informal discussion about what it meant for the members to be gay and Catholic. It was my first exposure to the idea that a person can be gay and spiritual at the same time. This was a real revelation to me. I came away knowing not only why the group was named “Dignity” but some of that dignity rubbed off on me that evening.

Sometimes I think about that “Dignity USA” meeting as I ponder how far the community has come and the emerging obstacles we constantly face. I am fortunate to have seen examples of strong character and deep meaning coupled with my identity. I know that we deserve more than a few crumbs of justice.

I am reminded daily that there are millions of people who live in non-accepting nations and within hostile cultures where there is no respect for LGBT people. They are threatened with torture and murder simply for being who they are. What little dignity they have, is a lifesaver. Dignity keeps them alive and provides a glimmer of hope for the future.

Dignity is indeed something everyone should aspire towards. Major League Baseball’s great Jackie Robinson once said, “The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has, is his personal dignity.” On a similar note, the philosopher Aristotle said, “Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.”

In this day and age when deceit is given a pass by people in the highest offices of the land we must be reminded of something Immanuel Kant once wrote. “By a lie, a man…annihilates his dignity as a man.”

It is important to find that kernel of dignity within ourselves and build upon it. We know family, friends, and others who possess great dignity. Perhaps you have known someone like Moriko, the family matriarch. Someone who was loved, shares love, and carefully nurtures people around them in an unobtrusive way. Someone who has quiet strength and dignity.

The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders a statement from  German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “When it comes to human dignity, we cannot make compromises.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, Controversy, cultural highlights, Friendship, History, Hometown, Meanderings, Politics, religion, Youth and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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