Naming What Matters
I started noticing how often I doodled the word dignity a few years ago.
I'd write it in the margins of my notes. Underline it in books. Draw elaborate designs, complete with shading and calligraphy on binders.
I have loved the word dignity since the first time I consciously *felt* it in my body.
In 2008 politicized healer Staci Haines of Generative Somatics guided a group of community organizers and I through a mindful practice of centering in our length, depth and width.
She invited us to take up the full length of our spines, then asked us to feel our inherent dignity.
As I straightened, I became aware of how often I collapsed through my chest, protecting myself from the humiliation I felt certain was just around the corner. Standing tall, with my heart open, and my back strong, felt new, a bit alarming, and also....delicious. Like I mattered. Like I had a right to exist. Like I could be fully here.
While dignity is inherent to all people, the impacts of insufficient living conditions relative to others, systemic mistreatment by institutions, physical violence, abuse, colonization, oppression, and invalidation of histories, identities and experiences are all violations of that innate dignity. These violations can have spiritual, social and psychological impacts that are experienced in the body.
In my work as a facilitator, politicized healer and mediator, relating to people's inherent dignity is critical to me.
I believe no change is sustainable unless it supports all people's dignity, safety and belonging.
Naming my practice Dignity Facilitation helps me centre on the inherent value of each person I meet, while also being aware that violations of dignity will undermine any change process.
Below is Donna Hicks' take on some essential behaviours that recognize people's dignity, compiled by Robyn Short. What essentials matter to you?