can say what you want about me, but the only way that
you're truly going to affect me is if I allow your words
or deeds to affect me. I can keep my dignity only on
my terms, and no one can take it away on theirs.
is, as long as I make sure that's so.
truly is nothing that anyone can take from us if we don't
let them. When they threw Thoreau in jail for not
paying poll taxed, he was amazed that they thought they
had taken away his freedom. "I did not for a
moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste
of stone and mortar." If he had allowed himself
to feel as if they had taken his freedom, then guess
what? He would have felt that he had lost it.
But that wasn't the case at all--since he refused to
surrender his freedom, he still held on to it even while
locked away in a jail.
people are so insecure that they try to hurt others, to
take away their dignity or self-respect. But if we
let a cruel, insecure person take away our dignity, what
does that say about us? People have held on to their
dignity in war, in prison, in concentration camps, in
difficult social situations, in politics--why shouldn't we
hold on to ours where we are, right here and right
now? It's never worth giving it up, and that's the
only way we can lose it--by giving it up.