Thursday, August 13, 2009

What is dignity?

If the right to dignity is granted in the South African constitution and one were to pull a definition straight out of the dictionary it would look something like this.
1. The quality or state of being worthy of esteem or respect

2. Inerrant nobility or worth

But what does the word rely mean in the context this nation. Economically
speaking the Employment rates are low, poverty and crime are high and the numerous homeless that wander the streets are an every day reality. But is dignity really about economic standing at all? If it were and the "nobility" means what it did in the old days (lots of money). The right to dignity is almost meaningless. Without the means to bring ones social economic standing up, the right to dignity is about as useful as a glass of whisky in the middle of the desert. The remnants of the apartheid regime have left in its wake an impoverished majority. That is not to say there are no poor white people in South Africa. But, the remnants of apartheid have left the descendents of the oppressed with little to nothing.

Nobility does not seem to have anything to do with dignity. Worth and respect are the words that really stand out when the word dignity comes to mind. If a persons worth is measured by their bank account, what car they drive, or the size of their house. Our world is worthless.
Some would say yes our world is worthless. I have to disagree with them on this. Every human being is born under different circumstances. They are raised under circumstances that they can not always control. If one breaks down the word dignity into the words "respect" and "worth" it is a much more manageable term. Respect is earned; people are defined by their actions. What one does with their circumstances is vastly more important than what those circumstances are in terms of respect. As far as worth goes, it is a given. Everyone on the planet has worth. Society tags peoples worth based on what they have on a piece of paper, where they came from and how much money they have. The fact that you have the potential to do things on this earth gives one worth. And if the actions that person takes determines respect. Those two things
comprise the dignity.