Often it is possible to mistakenly assess dignity with one’s clothes. Or limit the definition of dignity to mere superficiality that is skin deep. Can there be a more dignified picture than that of our Bapu in his loin clothes walking his way to a meeting with Churchill.
Dignity must have lot more to do with than the mere external sheathe we climb out of when within four walls? Dignity has got to do with what we are when we can go invisible. In a way, our original self has a knack of manifesting itself in the image we present to the outer world, even if we try not to give up much. Dignity lies in how we conduct ourselves with every group, in all stages and phases. How about dignity that is derived out of solid character. Dignity from having built an unmistakable reputation. Dignity from spinning something worthwhile out of our life. In Thamizh we have a proverb that goes as ‘கெட்டாலும் மேன்மக்கள் மேன்மக்களே, சங்கு சுட்டாலும் வெண்மை தரும்’. To me, that sums up dignity in entirety. So dignity is how malleable you are under duress, under pressing stress. How flexible you are. How catalytic you are under trying circumstances. How much you can facilitate a smooth maneuver in rough tidings.
In other words, dignity is embracing your life for what it throws at you. When life gives you lemon, how many choose to make a lemonade.
Often we have armchair intellectuals who have not stepped out of their comfort zones delivering sermons from their high pedestals on abstract human qualities that can be explained only in relative terms. Unless we are on all our fours at least at any one point of time in life, at the mercy of third parties, with our dignity at stake, with doors closing on us from every side, there is no way we can come to decipher what dignity is all about.
A pole dancer can live her life with dignity. Is dignity only about understated elegance bought off at an astronomical price.
Perceptions differ. I wonder when those in their supposed high moral grounds would stop judging.
Ageing with dignity can have totally a different perspective having nothing to do with our attire bordering on nostalgy. How about mellowing with experience, exposure, travel, scars, tolerance, forbearance, forgiving and broadmindedness greying us a shade darker. Or is it silver. A life lived well collecting memories is far more dignified than a life collecting material possessions. How can a sedan or designer jewelry come to define someone? Let us not allow a hairdye undermine the life we lived out. Our attitude towards life, how we carry ourselves past extraordinary circumstances define our dignity. A life battled for and won over has a lot more dignity than a smooth sailing not far from safe harbour.