1.21.2009

Dignity

So, late last night, I started getting emails from the comment notifier on my blog that an entry from late 2007 was being commented on. I went and found that an anonymous commenter decided to take me to task for saying the things I said in that piece about the client; expressing disgust and near-outrage that I would write these things about the venture-capital-funded, didn't-learn-any-lessons-from-the-first-dot-com-crash morons on the other end of my phone line.

I responded, and the whole thing began to spiral into a conversation about dignity. Now, I'm not really concerned or worried about what Anonymous thought - first, because anyone unwilling to stand up and say "Yeah, I said it, what are you going to do about it?" doesn't deserve a moment's worth of attention, and second because I've been me for almost 32 years now, and I'm not likely to stop that anytime soon. It's gotten me this far, I'm sure it'll keep me going just fine.

No, the reason I am writing this is because the whole thing got me thinking pretty deeply on the concept of dignity. Is it dignified to write about my first intimate encounter going horribly awry? For that matter, is anything I write dignified?

I think that the term is probably misappropriated in this regard. I think that dignity comes from self-repsect (which is good for me, since Princeton WordNet thinks the same thing). I think that writing about embarrassing things, or being party to embarrassing things, or royally screwing stuff up isn't any measure of dignity. It's how you handle those things that makes you dignified.

Passing judgement on others is natural - we all do it. Owning up to it is dignified.

Having judgement passed on us is a natural course of life. Standing forward and accepting responsibility for what you've done - that's dignified.

I have been dealing with other peoples' opinions of my life and work since I was a kid. Ultimately, I use them as tools to shape and mold my direction, so long as they're worth listening to. The good opinions, like the ones from readers on Mentally Incontinent, get listened to and accepted. The bad opinions are dismissed. And the one thing I've learned so far in life is that I'm still responsible for breathing air into my own lungs, feeding myself, tying my own shoes, wiping my own butt, and living my own life.

No matter how loud the passengers are yelling in your car, you're the one behind the steering wheel. Get where you're going how you see fit. If you make a wrong turn, admit it. If you make good time, congratulate yourself for it. Just get there safely, and don't forget to laugh at the morons in other cars, picking their noses and looking at you like YOU'RE the strange one.