ethel’s words

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DIGNITY

The imperturbable dignity of an INDIO facing an executionist trio in Mexico gave me my lasting and profound perception of dignity--as real to me as any flesh and blood reality.

What dignity is NOT becomes clear: It is not the imperious, up-tilted nose. It is not the stern demands for obeisance. It is not the air of fastidious superiority.

Dignity is the youngster refusing to cry when under vicious attack by a parent. Dignity is the quiet un-response of the victim of shouted racism, or the woman denounced with the belittling terms that remind women and girls of their lower status. Dignity is the silence of the Native American being abused and terrorized by a cop.

I think I know dignity. I have been in a courtroom where the dignity was not on high, but in the defendant’s stance. I have heard a man paid to be an advocate for the poor, a former supposedly tough newspaper reporter, upbraiding an old man longing to find his son, who swallowed the abuse without flinching.

And it may be, in a strange way, that dignity is like justice--revered by the poor but scorned by the rich.

Ethel C. Hale