On Dignity And Respect

A couple of weeks ago I heard an interview on the radio with a Democratic leader talking about the Occupy Wall Street groups and what they represented.   During the conversation the pol/pundit for the democrats framed a question that I thought highlighted the vast ideological and cultural divide between the right and left when painting with a broad brush stroke.  The inquiry was whether the host didn’t believe that everyone was entitled to dignity and respect regardless of their circumstances.  It also included the modifying condition that “as a Christian” didn’t the host believe such to be true.  Well, the host fell into the easy answer and said yes.

I immediately said I couldn’t agree with that broad statement as posed.  Yes, I do believe that everyone is due a minimum amount of respect and dignity as a human being.  But that is minimal.   What I found particularly telling was the use of that word “entitled”.    It seems that the left believes everyone is entitled to everything.   Sure as a human being I think the lowest of us should be treated with the basic respect.  If you come across a homeless person you shouldn’t be able to kick them around or treat them badly simply because of their status.   Likewise even the harden criminal is not to be treated with cruelty or abuse.  Even the worst of us should still have that minimum standard of dignity and respect.  But quite frankly that is about it.

Just like almost everything in life, dignity and respect has to be earned.  The neighbor who lies about claims for unemployment compensation, rights to food stamps, is abusive to his family and torments the neighborhood  is most definitely not entitle to dignity or respect from his fellow man other than that minimum due his humanity.   We have to earn our daily bread and our grades in school (or at least we used to before the nanny state).   Everything worthy or worthwhile must be earned by our actions and behavior, the example we set for others.    Those own the left so often want to excuse just about any terrible behavior be reverting to a victimhood argument.   That the gang- bangers on the street are still entitled to dignity and respect and that it is somehow society’s fault for their shortcomings.  I do understand and appreciate the Pygmalion effect on people and that they can and do often rise to the level of expectations placed on them but it has its limits. 

The poorest among us and the least educated can still be people of great dignity and respect if they conduct themselves within the accepted mores of society.  They take responsibility for their actions and deal with the consequences of their own actions and take individual initiative to improve their life to achieve their own happiness and don’t take from society more than is their due based on what they contribute.  They certainly don’t look to fault society for whatever ills may come their way.    Those who peach the ideology of victimhood should remember the words of a wise man several centuries ago who observed– that our fault does not lie in the stars but within ourselves.

We need society where more people do deserve dignity and respect because they have earned by their actions and behavior.  I only wish that “everyone” was entitled to that entitlement.    www.olcranly.wordpress.com

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Filed under Culture, Economics, government, Politics

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