Dignity, respect, honor and being a man

Photo courtesy of WE HOPE AGAIN | Staff Writer Colin Lang talks about the philosophies that govern his life and why he believes they should govern your’s too.

Dignity, Respect and Honor are centuries-old concepts. They have motivated individuals to go above and beyond their limitations to become great leaders and achieve the impossible. Personally, I have found these concepts to be enormously helpful in learning how to conduct myself socially and professionally.

Despite their being old concepts, I think that they may have a use in current society, particularly for other men. This is not to say that I think women are incapable of conducting themselves with dignity, respect and honor; in fact, I’m privileged to know many who do. However, I think that men may benefit more directly from exhibiting this behavior. Anyone is free to disagree – I’m simply saying what might work from my perspective and experience.

So let’s begin with the most basic and simple one: Dignity. In my view, dignity is an inherent piece of every human being. Regardless of who you are, where you were born and what you have done, you deserve to be treated with dignity. We are all human beings, and none of us like being treated like dirt. So, really, follow the Golden Rule, and you’re going to be treating people with dignity. It’s that easy.

Now it’s time to look at a more difficult one: Respect. There is actually a bit of a trend now that switches the terms of dignity and respect. Often, people will say, “If you don’t respect me, I won’t respect you,” when what they mean is “If you don’t look up to me as an authority, then I won’t treat you as a human being.” There is obviously a lot wrong with that.

Respect does involve looking to someone for guidance or considering his or her words carefully; that part is correct. However, respect is not something you inherently deserve like dignity. Respect is earned through actions that individuals takes that indicate that they are competent, well-rounded and genuinely committed to their beliefs.

Notice that I didn’t include that you had to agree with everything an individual does in order to respect them. You can respect people from all across the ideological, religious and cultural spectrums for a range of different actions. Personally, I respect people from history like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and ancient Roman dictator Cincinnatus along with contemporary people like former president Barack Obama and Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. Whether I agree with all of these people is a different story, but I respect each of them for several reasons.

The final concept, Honor, ties the previous two together in my interpretation. The concept of honor has had enough meanings in history that there are full books written on the subject, but I will discuss a simpler version of it since a word count constrains me.
Honor builds on dignity to create a code that an individual should adhere to. This code should function to help you conduct yourself around those you treat with dignity and those you treat with respect; it also gives you a set of standards to measure yourself against. When you live up to this code, you have gained or maintained your honor. When you fail to live up to it, you have lost honor. To regain it, you must rededicate yourself to fulfilling that code.

Through acting in an honorable manner, respecting those who are worthy of it and treating everyone with dignity, I do my best to fulfill what I see as the way a man should act. It has served me well so far in life, and I think it could serve others well, too.

Colin Lang is a junior history and Philosophy, Politics and the Public double major. He is a staff writer for the Newswire from Westlake, Ohio.