The Dignity of Old Age by Bill Storie
The definition of the word dignity is “the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect.”
Yet sometimes we don’t understand the meaning of dignity or perhaps how and when the word should be used. Too often we use the word “respect” when in fact we should use “dignity”.
Let me explain.
I can easily provide respect to you - or for you if you prefer - but I can’t provide dignity. Dignity is inside you. It is part of your DNA.
However, on the other hand, people can strip you of your dignity. They can embarrass you in public; shout at you, even spit at you. They can humiliate you in person or in writing. They can start a smear campaign. They can tweet nasty things about you from the comfort of their couch, usually anonymously.
But only you, and you alone, can feel the loss.
As we get older, many of us seem happy to hide away from society – perhaps not totally in the physical sense, but in the psychological or emotional sense we do. We tend to stay away from argument or discourse. We avoid person-to-person fighting. We seem to think that our voice should not be heard. We tend to think our presence is not welcome, or even wanted.
Maybe we’ve given up. Maybe we’ve decided to ignore our own dignity. Or, maybe we don’t care about it anymore.
Yet when we are challenged in some way about our dignity, we stand up and declare that our dignity is the bedrock of our life – especially in our older years. We declare that we may have lost our agility, our memory, our get up and go, our energy – but we will fight for our dignity and state that we will never lose it.
But for some strange reason it is only when we are tested about our dignity that we embrace it, yet in our daily lives we aren’t too concerned, or interested in it. Why not?
Is it not that we have internalized our dignity to such an extent that we simply don’t want to shout about it from rooftops, but merely that we DO have dignity but that we prefer to just keep quiet about it?
I don’t think there is any need to brag about it certainly, but I do firmly believe that as we age our dignity factor increases and rightly so. We must not allow others to disregard us, walk by us, ignore our opinions, or show shameful disrespect because “he’s just that old guy”.
We DO have opinions, experience, knowledge, humility and concern for others. Maybe now we DO have the time to stop and smell the flowers and say hello to the old guy sitting on the park bench.
Maybe our real character can come out at last. We’re not controlled by anyone in the workplace any more, or by some over-powering friend. We can be ourselves. That means we have the ability to be true to ourselves. If we choose to be dignified in how we treat other people and maintain our real sense of fairness, then we have full control to do just that.
Don’t lose your dignity and self-respect trying to make people love and appreciate you, when they just aren’t capable.
So, while we most likely want people to respect us, which is only natural, we should not be too upset if they don’t - providing we NEVER lose our dignity. Whether we verbalize that we cherish our dignity to others is a personal matter.
The secret is simply that if you run your life with dignity then there is only one person needs to know – YOU!!
By Bill Storie