1:  the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed
2 (a): high rank, office, or position; (b): a legal title of nobility or honor
archaic: dignitary
4: formal reserve or seriousness of manner, appearance, or language

Source: www.merriam-webster.com


Dignity (n.): early 13th century, from Old French dignite “dignity, privilege, honor,” from Latin dignitatem “worthiness,” from dignus “worth, worthy, proper, fitting,” from Proto-Indo-European dek-no-, suffixed form of root dek- “to take accept.”

Source: etymonline.com


“Without dignity, identity is erased.” 

Laura Hillenbrand (b. 1967, author, most famous for bestsellers, "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" and "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption")

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“One's dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” 

Michael J. Fox (b. 1961, award-winning actor, author, producer, and activist and philanthropist for the research and cure of Parkinson's Disease)

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“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” 

Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971, French fashion designer and businesswoman; founder and namesake of the Chanel brand)

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“If I follow the inclination of my nature, it is this: beggar-woman and single, far rather than queen and married.” 

Elizabeth I  The Virgin Queen and Good Queen Bess, 1533-1603, queen of England between 1558 and 1603)

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“As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.” 

Virginia Woolf (born Adeline Virginia Stephen, 1882 - 1941, English writer whose novels, whose nonlinear approaches to narrative, exerted a major influence on the literary genre, best known for "Mrs. Dalloway" and "To the Lighthouse")

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“People have the right to call themselves whatever they like.  That doesn't bother me.  It's other people doing the calling that bothers me.” 

Octavia E. Butler (1947 – 2006, American science fiction writer, multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards; the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship)

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"I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity."

Michelle Obama (b. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama in 1954, lawyer, author, advocate, and the first African-American First Lady and the wife of the 44 President of the U.S., Barack Obama)

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“People have the right to call themselves whatever they like.  That doesn’t bother me.  It’s other people doing the calling that bothers me.”

Octavia E. Butler

We all should live our lives in dignity, peace, and in grace.  These are our basic human rights, to be treated with respect and to treat others with honor as well.  We may not always agree with each other, but, our spiritual work should be to recognize our own humanity and the humanity in others.

Having the right to be referred to by the words we prefer is to treat someone with dignity and respect.

Years ago, a beloved colleague, twenty years my senior, provoked me into an argument with him about why black folks preferred to be called African-Americans.  He didn’t see the sense of it, and said that he was English and didn’t call himself English-American.    Another colleague who was in the conversation, who happened to be Jewish, answered before I could and said, “But, that’s what the African-American community would like to be called.”   I could not have said it better.   It was simple as that.

Last Friday, I was invited to attend a continuing education training on LGBT community.  The presenter, a charismatic Gay man and psychotherapist, recommended that we should always ask a transgender person, in particular, what pronouns that person preferred.  He said it was only being respectful.

There’s so much beauty and diversity to our world, sojourners.  Let’s honor of all of it!

Be well, my fellow travelers.

Namaste, Tonya



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