On Dignity and Change

As someone who is in the business of “changing the world,” it’s disturbing that some people really believe it is possible to leave the room in a dignified state of being after humiliating, disrespecting, and undermining those with whom they are disentangling with in the most cowardly manner, and don’t realize how this, in all actuality, is not just undignified, but cowardly.

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and spiritual leader of India. Location unknown. Français : Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), Guide politique et spirituel de l’Inde. Lieu inconnu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to believe positive change was possible. That people are, even if sometimes misguided, inherently good. But how do you reconcile bad behaviour with reality, especially when the other person makes you ultimately grovel, trying to earn their respect? You don’t reconcile anything, because the motions and wheels of negative change are already put in motion by their behaviour and by your incapability to realize that groveling is pathetic, regardless of however much they think they can still leave the room respectfully, and you will remain intact.

I am reminded of Gandhiji’s words, inscribed on the coffee cup I drink out of every day, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Sometimes, during a time of loss, when there are shifts in the way memories are re-imagined, re-evaluated,  and the way you choose to containerize everything which happened, it is important to remember Gandhiji’s words.

You can’t ever change other people, you can change laws and host tribunals and prosecute people for crimes, but when there is no crime committed and the only horrible thing is that someone fails to treat you as a dignified human being and think their own dignity is intact after doing so, then what do you do with the loss at hand? The change that has occurred, the ideals which have been shattered?

Because at the end of the day, loss is what defines a person’s life. It is we can have, that helps us articulate how we want to see ourselves, why it is important to remain true to who we are, and what we want to be.

Change is important and things are always changing. Attempting to save the world, to change it even one person at a time even when we have been virtually stubbed out and slapped, even when all is lost and we have been the victim of abuse and pettiness, especially when nothing makes sense: Perhaps this is what really defines humanity, and drives our potentials to have faith in ourselves and in others.

– excerpted from my diary, January, 2011


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