Post number 14 of 33 in The Ganymede Progression.

I’ve been rather looking forward to this topic, but now that I find myself approaching it I’m not quite sure where to start. Dignity is a bit of a trap, in some ways; it is after all rather undignified to suggest one knows more about dignity than another. But in general terms…

Dignity is the manner in which we conduct or hold ourselves in our dealings with others. One who has dignity is composed, polite, not arrogant and generally pleasant to deal with. One who lacks it can be challenging to communicate with those lacking dignity; they are prone to engaging in petty, or mean, or angry, or otherwise unpleasant behaviour. Dignity is therefore a useful trait for Jedi to possess, because we must approach others in a manner which allows us to engage with them. Being petty or mean as a Jedi is at odds with what being a Jedi means; for me, it is ethically inconsistent for Jedi to act without dignity.

But dignity is an ideal, and as I said previously, ideals are only there to dive us a heading, they cannot be truly attained, never fully embodied, at least for no more than small moments. Each of us has our undignified moments… how did I put it before, we paint the masterpiece and wipe our arses with the same pair of hands. It’s wise to remember that dignity is not a replacement for integrity, or for compassion, or for wisdom. It is a single aspect of a meaningful whole; one good trait out of many. There’s not much sense in remaining dignified if you are arrogant or petty in another way

Dignity implies a slight “detachment” or remove from that which is going on at the most viscerally present level, in the sense that we are not responding with the “violence of the moment” and instead tempering our deepest impulses in our outward composure. This makes me question if it is truly authentic; where some think of humility as modesty, others see it as a genuine application of empathy, and likewise dignity can either be a sincere understanding that engaging with the world in a certain way benefits everyone, or simple protocol. A perceptually similar but ethically opposed trait to dignity is passive aggression, where one aims to give the appearance of dignity, but applies it in an ironic, insulting manner. Passive aggression, marking one’s disdain with dignity, is absolutely one of the least dignified manners of conducting oneself.

Dignity is something I expect from Jedi, but I guess like any community we each have our undignified moments. I find I have little to say on the topic without stretching myself; I inherently understand what it is, I know there have been times when I have lacked it, and I feel I now have a better grasp of it. i do feel dignity, composure and a certain internal stoicism are important traits for Jedi, and can think of some of our number who could benefit from a little more of all those things. But I guess it’s quite hard to talk about, and that makes it hard to impart or to teach.

Saying that, I’m certainly not like those conceited old American socialites who intone “Class… you’re either born with it or not”. I firmly believe people can learn to conduct themselves with dignity if they apply themselves to the task, and as I think I’ve made clear here, I do believe doing so is a worthwhile exercise: it facilitates better communication, it makes a Jedi more authoritative, more capable under pressure, more likeable in general, and all of these are useful traits for those who would be compassionate, effective members of their communities.

Jedi must also be open to communicating with those who lack dignity of their own. We should not stand on ceremony when people need help, whoever they are. I suppose a perception of the homeless is that they lack a degree of dignity, personally I’ve met some extremely dignified homeless people, but had I stuck with that initial perception so many share I would perhaps not work to help them. The same is true of those who are outright rude to us, but I suggest we must be cautious in this space; both in terms of defending ourselves from aggression, and of wasting energy on those who we have no capacity to help. It’s a judgement call – is it a road-blocking lack of dignity, or a need for help which renders a person undignified?

Dignity is something all Jedi should consider, and have an understanding of. If nothing else, Jedi represent our religion, and our Temple. If we cannot communicate and conduct ourselves with dignity, we lose an important part of what it means to be Jedi: that is, to act with humility, with compassion, with kindness.