Tuesday, 3 July 2007

They Can't Take That Away From Me

I've been thinking about the concept of dignity today. I think it is an important principle.

It's not easy to retain your dignity in public life. Including, I would suggest, that of the professional footballer. Doing so, in my view, makes you a very special sort of person.

Kevin Raymond, a football poet, thinks David Ellery, a well known football referee has dignity.

And it doesn't just apply to behaviour on the field. Glenn Roeder, former manager of Newcastle United was described as having dignity, acquired as a result of having survived a brain tumour.

Seeing the dignity others bring to situations can be inspiring. It reminds you that whatever happens to you, no-one can take your dignity away unless you let them. In some situations it is, or can feel like, it is the only control you have.

Here are some inspiring words from Moazzam Begg, a former Guantánamo detainee:

"When people say, "How did you manage?" Well sometimes I didn't manage. Sometimes I exploded myself and broke up everything and fell about, cried, smashed my head against the wall. But that was a rarity. Generally I tried to be a controlled and as calm as possible. One important thing to me was dignity and self control and self respect. They had definitely taken my freedom and my ability to be free, but what they couldn't do was to take away my dignity, and that's what I held on to.

And how and where do we find our dignity? One suggestion from Cesar Chavez is this:

"From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength"

I tend to agree.

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