I don’t really like what Wikipedia has to say about DIGNITY, so no link today (sorry Wiki-guys). They something about intrinsic value that everybody has, but I think you build dignity, and it has more to do with worth than value.
In many years of working for “professional” companies, I have worked with people who have done some pretty shady things. Some of them did so to fit in with a clique, some thought they were making themselves look better by making someone else look bad. Some genuinely thought they were doing the right thing by everybody.
I know a guy who, from a young age, struggled with the language, had to overcome a very thick accent, and stuttered profusely. This guy was as smart as anybody I’ve ever met, but he had a hard time at work. At one point, he was moved away from direct customer contact because of his stuttering. After years of this, he stopped stuttering, took an active interest in what he did for a living, and moved up in every endeavor he set his mind to. My point here is the people who moved him away from public tried to take away his dignity, his self-worth.
I have dealt with people who tried to take away my dignity. I’ve mentioned before, I’m overweight (fat). I’m active, I’m intelligent, and I’m good at what I do, but I’m fat. Most of the time, it has little impact on my daily habits and rituals. It is what it is. For a large chunk of my life, I’ve studied Martial Arts. In fact, before I left my last school, I was regarded as one of the “best of the best” students there. I taught classes, I signed up new members, and I gave as well as I got in any practice. I wasn’t allowed to test for Black Belt because I was too fat for the Owner’s taste. I was told that the best I would do would be the senior student, but I would not be allowed to test until my weight was acceptable. Of course, I took this as a huge insult. There is actually a lot more to the story, but the end result is, I walked away from the school (albeit for other reasons), and essentially stopped talking to someone who had taught me and whom I had known for most of my life.
When someone acts in a way to try and take away someone else’s dignity, they ultimately give up their own. By insulting others for things outside their control, the insulter shows that they have little (if any) self worth, or dignity.
Young people are often regarded as being cruel to each other. Kids have a reputation of picking on each other over the awkwardness that everybody ultimately experiences. Some of this reputation is absolutely deserved, and of course, some is hyperbole, but a problem does exist. Whether the problem is due to “the system” which is inadequate in teaching our young people better, or whether the blame falls on parents for perpetuating their own bad upbringing is not important to this discussion. I really don’t care about the past, or blaming the system. I’m more interested in small steps and small solutions.
When you are at work, school, or anywhere else, you need to take care to maintain your dignity. The best way to do this is by helping others to maintain theirs. You see the slow kid in class, don’t make fun of them. You see a co-worker who just doesn’t get it, try to help them. You see the fat kid on the playground, don’t laugh. Remember, when you try to tear others down, ultimately you tear yourself down even further. Besides, especially when you are looking for work, you never know whether the person who is interviewing you is the same person who used to be picked on for stuttering.