The Art of Dignity

the-art-of-dignity-unsplash-by-elke-karin-lugerta way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control;
the quality of being worthy of honor or respect 1

Culture enjoys all manner of art forms: Literary arts. Media arts. Visual arts. Performing arts. And that sometimes seemingly prehistoric form known as The Art of Dignity.

There have been days when in disbelief I’ve wanted to (okay, maybe I did…) shout at the images on screen, billboard or social media, “Have you none?!” It’s as though dignity is an albatross around their neck. Distinction – as in standing out from the crowd – is their goal. Through shock value, though, not self-respect.

If I’m not careful my response can quickly land in the undignified category. Because after all, for cryin’ out loud…where’s your dignity?? Then I remember …

Some art forms do not leap to the forefront as quickly or easily as others. This I have had to learn myself. I think human nature could use another dose of the lost art of fine art. Namely, the art of dignity.

How wonderful to have my faith restored in dignity as a living, breathing art form on the previous season of The Voice, an American reality television singing competition in search of new talent from public and blind solo auditions. I love the concept since it is simply the voice being heard by judges whose chairs are turned away from the stage thereby ensuring an unbiased, predisposed turnaround.

As an audience viewer (albeit in my jammies and slippers in the comfort of our family room), there is something about seeing the whole package while listening to their solo. I suppose I should close my eyes in an effort to recreate the effect the judges get, but sometimes I’m taken in with wondering how that voice is coming out of that person. I think God gets a kick out of distributing voice boxes as He wills!

Anyway, back to last season.

The first evening he took the stage, there was something different about him. Jordan Smith. Say his name and if you have seen or heard him, the mental picture of the gentle giant of a young man with the golden voice steps forward. With dignity.

Jordan went on to win the competition. However, in the course of weekly moving on to the season finale, he also won back some hearts to a re-sustained belief in the art of dignity. He modeled to a live audience and in households and YouTube replays across America what dignity looks like.

He was refreshingly real and tasteful. Sincere with nothing to prove other than that he had a voice and that was what he’d come to highlight. He simply used the gift God gave him. He sang, with dignity.

In a world of dignity increasingly gone defunct, I often think of Jordan Smith. Not to idolize him but because, for me, he embodied the art of dignity in our modern world. When I witness dignity it’s like catching a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere made stale by debasement of oneself or others.

We can see dignity yet dignity goes beyond the visual. You can feel dignity in the presence of someone who possesses it. You can hear it in how they speak. You can recognize it in their responses – or silent lack thereof. No matter how tall or short, wide or thin, attractive or homely the carrier, it’s like standing in the presence of stately redwoods when dignity is at hand.

Dignity is not a novelty. There are thousands of circumstances in which dignity is daily displayed. Sometimes though, distinctive hogs center stage while dignity stands quietly, just being and doing.

Dignity is not aloof, prideful or boring. If anything, it lends a warmth that woos and envelops whether laughing or crying, celebrating or expressing concern. Dignity bestows honor and respect – on self and others alike.

Not everyone wants to practice the art of dignity.
Some haven’t learned how or had it modeled for them.
Others threaten or feel threatened in the face of it,
debasing themselves in the course of maligning others in an effort to get in front or be above.
Some consider dignity a fate worse than death – or losing an election…

When all is said and done, dignity is the countenance of the Golden Rule –

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”
Luke 6:31 (NASB)

Treat everyone you meet with dignity.
I Peter 2:17a (The Message)

Including the one in the mirror.

If you’d like to explore ‘the art of…’ in your life, I invite you to reach me here. My ‘art’ table is available.

~ Nancy

The Art of … word pictures of human nature

1Merriam-Webster online Dictionary │ Photo credit: Unsplash by Elke Karin Lugert

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