The Dignity Initiative

This blog will delve more deeply into specific aspects of dignity, instances of dignity being championed or violated and other related topics.  

The name “Dig In” (as you might have guessed) was initially just an abbreviation for “Dignity Initiative” but with its additional meaning being to get  to work on a project, delve deep and stay persistent, the name stuck.

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​ Debbie Weinstock, PhD.

Dig In (The Dignity Initiative Blog)

Debbie Weinstock, PhD

 June 28, 2015

2 Steps Forward for Dignity in the U.S. This Week:
1. Same-Sex Marriage
On Friday, June 26, 2015, The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that, according to the U. S. Constitution, same sex couples may not be denied the right to marry.

So what does this have to do with dignity?

Dignity, at its core, is recognizing that which is precious and valued in every human being, accepting each person’s identity as they themselves define it, and upholding every individual’s right to make decisions for him or her self as long as those decisions do not impinge on another’s personal freedom. Dignity means being treated fairly and not being excluded from the liberties and the pursuit of happiness that others enjoy.

The celebrations here in New York have been jubilant and heart-felt. One celebrant summed up his feelings yesterday saying that although he was born in the U.S. and has lived here all his life, today is the first day he feels like a full American citizen. The impact of being recognized as you are and having your dignity honored is powerful and life-affirming!

2. Rethinking the Confederate Flag
Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to wake people up to the destructive power of symbols associated with the degradation of a particular group of people.

On Wednesday, June 17, a 21-year old man, propelled by the deluded notions of white supremacy, shot nine innocent people who had welcomed him into their house of worship in Charleston, South Carolina. The nation was shocked and saddened by his unthinkable and horrific act. This cold-blooded murderer had embraced the symbol of the Confederate flag, the battle flag of the army representing the eleven states that had seceded from the Union in 1860 and 1861 to form The Confederate States of America and fight to defend their “right” to continue to own African people as slaves.

The Africans who were brought to the U.S. under terrible conditions against their will, were often treated so badly that it’s hard for feeling human beings to even think about that dark time in American history.  It was the ultimate violation of human dignity, and yet its symbol still flies on the grounds of the state Capitol in South Carolina and is still represented on the state flag of Mississippi.

As a result of the shooting, calls to remove the Confederate flag from both the South Carolina State Capitol grounds and the state flag of Mississippi have been swift and loud.

As a white Northerner, the Confederate flag was something I had only read about in history books and frankly, never thought much about. But I do know the sickening feeling of seeing swastikas spray-painted on a local school building, and can only imagine what it would be like to see that symbol of hatred and slaughter flying atop a flagpole on the grounds of my state Capitol.

Symbols matter. They can speak volumes without ever making a sound. They are an integral part of the human psyche that evoke strong emotions and associations. Although I grieve along with my fellow Americans for the precious lives lost at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, I am glad that in the aftermath of the shooting people of all faiths and races have come together in peace and love and, in calling for the removal of the Confederate flag, have been awakened to the importance of honoring the dignity of all people.

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