Two of the most valuable resources we have: Dignity and Respect. One of my favorite stories goes like this:
An eight-year-old girl was taken out her new classroom and questioned by a county social worker. The school had become concerned when they realized that this little girl and her two brothers lived in a homeless shelter with their parents. Although clean, the little girl wore clothing that was ragged with age and a little small. Her reading was on grade level and she quite aware of current events. Somewhat reticent to speak up, when prompted, the little girl gave thoughtful answers. The concern? That the little girl may need to be placed in foster care, to be able to remain in school and continue her education in a consistent manner (not disappearing to another new school in a week or so).
“Do your parents think they will get jobs soon?” asked the nice social worker. “They try every day to find something,” answered the girl.
“How long can your family stay in the homeless shelter?”
“I don’t know.”
“So you don’t have a home now or one that you will have soon?”
“Oh,” brightened the little girl, “We have a home, we just don’t have a house to put it in.”
The little girl was not taken out her family or her “home.”
With an innate sense of dignity, this little girl prevented a chain of events that may have been quite devastating to she and her family. I believe she taught the adults around her about respecting the power of family and love.
I don’t know why one child is able to demonstrate a quiet dignity of self, but I suspect it has to do with how he his personality interprets what he experiences and then turns his own expectations into something that demands dignity from himself for himself; and, when treated respectfully, offers that same dignity and respect to others.
With respect for others, we grow in our dignity of self. When we demean, debase or critically judge others. we lessen our own dignity. We make it that much harder for all of us to grow in empathy and compassion–whatever the cause.
Be gentle with yourself as you go forward in demonstrating and living with dignity and respect.