On MLK and Dignity
|My daughter Jackie and I at the MLK Memorial, Washington, D.C. March 2019|
And now, dignity
What Dylan speaks to is the various circumstances where one looks for dignity. Dylan suggests everyone is looking for dignity, even in the most unlikely of places. Dignity is not simplified, and as Dylan attests, sometimes dignity cannot be found. For example:
As I reflect today on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I can't help but to think about dignity. King was deeply concerned about dignity. He thought about it, studied it, and it was a deeply spiritual conviction. Dignity is found sprinkled throughout his famous quotes, and certainly it was at the heart of his movement for equal rights.
|MLK Memorial, March 2019|
But doesn't dignity seem lost within modern life? Even the consideration of dignity is complicated. I do think Bob Dylan's "Dignity" is particularly poignant in this regard. It is perhaps through this type of art that this importance in life and living can be accessed.
Dr. King's consideration of dignity took many forms. It took the form of dignity by recognition of the rights of others: through race, social class, creed. And yet access to dignity can exist in so many other contexts of human interaction and form. And the consideration of dignity is not just when it's convenient. It's now, and it's all the time. This underlies the challenge posed to every person by Dr. King. Not only where does one find dignity, but how do our interactions, our culture, and our society provide a context for which others too can have access and find dignity?
I do not underestimate the importance of the emotional, intellectual, and relationship work of the recognition of dignity. I think it took Martin Luther King, Jr.'s early life experiences and his studies of topics related to dignity for him to then to have found the courage to act out his principles in real time: in interactions, with others, and in society. No, he absolutely was not perfect. And getting access to the subject of dignity is not always a straight shot or linear. But it became to be his effort, his work.
Let's continue to take that intention forward in our personal lives, in our interactions with others. It takes work, it takes time. Keep at it.