Global Dignity Day
We all are aware of the extent of the widespread stigmatization of mental health related conditions today. Across various sections of the population, there are thousands of people who are affected by mental health conditions are deprived of their human rights. And despite the growing awareness and realization, there still remains a wide gap to be filled in to ensure adequate support and services for all. It is disheartening to think of the individuals who are unable to reach out for help towards improving their psychological well-being, due to a fear of being discriminated, stigmatized and marginalised against. Global Dignity Day, observed on 15th October, is an initiative to educate and inspire the youth to help them understand and value their self-worth.
On the occasion of Global Dignity Day, it becomes important to reiterate the importance of imbibing the value of dignity in all our lives. To live a dignified life, we need to have consideration for who we are and what we believe in. Dignity is simply the way we feel, think and behave in regard to how we values ourselves and others. In order to treat others with dignity, it is equally important to take into consideration who we are and what we ourselves believe in, which in turn helps shape our behaviour and attitude towards others.
Therefore, before we want to treat others with dignity, it is necessary for us to define our own dignity. Unless a person learns to respect one’s own self-worth, it is futile to attempt to bring dignity in others’ lives. Ignorance also breeds indifference in our society, as bystanders become more apathetic. With the unprecedented increase in crime rates, corruption as well as surmounting unrest among the population, there is ample evidence to show the need to focus on the needs of promoting mental health and psychological well-being today.
Leading to Dignity
As an individual unit of the society, it is we who form the grass-roots of such issues, and therefore, if we can become more sensitive to the rights and needs of others, it will lead to a surge of change across all levels of society. While we do need to reiterate the need for human rights oriented policies, it is more important for all of us as individuals to build dignified habits across all levels of the society. Such dignified habits can be acquired from the school, peers, community, and family, which is the first source through which beliefs about our self, others and the environment are formed. In addition, it is important to recognise the influence of the media, through the use of their language, the lyrics of songs, portrayal of human interaction, advertising etc., which go a long way in influencing the values and messages imbibed in us.
Besides discriminating against mental illnesses, there are many instances in our daily lives when our own or another person’s dignity could be compromised, which we might not tend to notice. For instance, bullying, in a physical or verbal form, makes the person feel terrible about oneself and about the world. Often unruly comments or judgements made through the social media could be invading one’s privacy and sense of dignity. Even when we make comparisons with others, think stereotypically, impose ourselves on others, etc., we are infringing the dignity of others.
Unless we begin to sensitize ourselves to the thoughts, feelings and values of the other people around us, it is not possible for us to respect their dignity, and in return we cannot earn their respect and prevent an infringement of our own rights and feelings as well. As a society, we need to develop an empathy towards others, and celebrate individual differences, refraining from generalizing and showing respect and concern for oneself and others.
Bringing in the change
If we take a minute to think of the possible consequences or reactions to the instances when our own or another person’s dignity is compromised, we would realize the extent of its adverse influence on our physical, social, behavioural, as well as psychological well-being. Recognizing the necessity of imbibing dignity does not suffice, it is our responsibility to bring in a change at least at our individual levels, in order to bring forth a change in the society at large. Therefore, we need to acknowledge our own set of values, be more receptive to alternative points of view, be aware of one’s own and others boundaries and rights. As a society, we need to develop an empathetic attitude, identifying with others’ experiences, and being able to gain a personal perspective while withholding our own judgements. Celebrate who you are, appreciate yourself and feel liberated, because unless you practice self-compassion, you would not be able to earn their respect and would not be able to be compassionate and respectful towards others. It is our own responsibility to bring in dignity not just towards others but within our own selves.