There were two men staring at each other. The one had spoken poorly of the other man’s business. The other returned the insult by commenting on his wife. That resulted in a slander against the other man’s entire family. All of this culminated with the one man taking off his glove and slapping the other in the face. The next day at noon the met, back to back, 10 paces away from shooting at each other, defending their honor.
Granted, that was 150 years ago. That’s what mattered then…honor. You had to defend your honor lest it be taken from you. One didn’t defer to a higher authority whether it be God, the law, or social mores for a sense of identity or defense. You took it into your own hands. If someone “took” your honor, you had to defend and take it back.
Then, society changed…evolving into a dignity culture. A dignity culture puts more of an emphasis on an individuals inherent self worth. That self worth can come from family, faith, or simply an understanding of the value of life. When someone does something to the individual, there are laws, social norms, and restraint to resolve the issue without losing one’s…dignity.
Now, as a I look around, things are changing again. Granted, we aren’t seeing duels in the OK Corral. Yes, there is a resemblance of that in the most violent of street crimes which is mostly gang related but for the average individual it manifests itself in more subtle ways. We have social media shootouts. Our gangs are our political parties/beliefs and social causes. Whatever we are passionate about defines us. When someone disagrees with us or believes something different, we have conflict. It is taken as a form of an attack. It has taken the place of our “honor” being taken from us. Thus, a social media duel takes place.
In an honor culture, your honor can be taken from you quite easily. In a dignity culture, the only way you can lose your dignity is if you give it away. Sadly, many give it away with their words and actions so very often. Why?
This happens because many just don’t know who they are. There are many reasons for this. Kids are raised without both parents who are emotionally healthy and present. We have a lifetime of hurts that leave us wondering if we are worthy of love. We have every distraction one could ever imagine to distract us from our hurts.
Lastly, we are more and more separated from the God who created and loves us. Christians very often say, “I know who’s I am.” Their identity is in Christ. That can’t be taken from you. Beyond that, even other religions provide a semblance of knowing who you are. Even devout atheist Adam Carolla bemoans the lack of faith in our society on his podcasts.
I’m grieved by all of this but am resolute to make sure that we grow to be emotionally healthy and comforted. I yearn for people to know how much God loves them, despite their hurts and transgressions. I would love for grace to abound and forgiveness to be extended. I’m glad you join me in this venture.