I bang on about this all the time:
Losing one’s dignity. I am not talking about the vomit smeared teenagers lying face down in Britain’s gutters. They have. I am talking about the elderly in care homes who need someone to help them onto the loo. They haven’t.
I often hear the words ‘lost his dignity’ about the elderly or ill who no longer can care for their own basic or intimate needs. As if is dignity is a blend of independence and privacy.
All over the world, there have been peaceful, brave men and women who have resisted authority on account of conscience. Because of the political, religious or racial climate of the time, they have been persecuted. Perhaps they were stripped, so brutalised and ill treated they could not care for themselves. Did this mean they lost their dignity? Did they lose it when they lost private access to a toilet? The opposite is true. They are blazing examples of the best of what it means to be human.
Dignity is not lost with one’s ability to hold a spoon. Helplessness is embarrassing, humiliating even, but whatever the incapacitated suffer, it shouldn’t be a diminishing of our respect or regard.