What is Dignity?
By Miranda Smith
Dignity is a word that I have heard throughout my life but had never really understood the full meaning of, and I don’t think that I am alone here. Dignity seems to be one of those things that is very loosely defined and hard to grasp that full meaning of. When I first heard about Brittany Maynard and how her story involved a movement called Death with Dignity, I decided it was time for me to learn the full meaning of what dignity really is. The dictionary was unhelpful as it defines dignity as “the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect”. The Catechism addresses how all people are created in the image on God and therefore have innate human dignity. This is a very beneficial definition for me, but it was unable to relate the importance and meaning of dignity to a person who does not believe in God.
I came across an article that explains better both the meaning and importance of dignity. It is not from a Catholic perspective, but is able to make the loft idea of dignity something that we should be working to protect on a daily basis. The link to What Is the Real Meaning of Dignity? By Donna Hicks is here and I suggest reading it to gain a greater understanding of what dignity really is. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dignity/201304/what-is-the-real-meaning-dignity-0
Dignity is something that starts when we don’t see ourselves as above or below anyone else. When we are able to see the dignity that each person including ourselves has, then it is easier to see the value of the person, their opinions and their role in the world. After searching for an understanding of the word dignity I find the name of this physician assisted suicide movement to be named improperly. If a person is to die with dignity that does not imply choosing their time of death, or being in a certain state of mind. Dignity is seeing that all people have value and if you are truly able to see the value of a person’s life, including your own, why would you want to end it?