Self respect & dignity 

By S. M. Hali

Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King

Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King

Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.

—Abraham Joshua Heschel

Dignity and self-respect are two things that every person should have, but unfortunately not everyone does. If you know you lack these qualities, but would like to gain them, it’s never too late to learn to believe in yourself and to behave in a dignified manner. When you learn to love yourself and treat others with respect, you’ll feel an amazing sense of inner satisfaction. People will also begin to flock to you, as they will see you as a role model for how they would like to behave.

Nations comprise individuals and the same virtues when extended at the national level, become equally meaningful. Self respect and good conduct are the valid estimates determining the level of maturity, extent of graciousness and civility of a nation. Traditions, social norms and customs of cultured societies are so tuned that mutual respect, deference and harmony become the hallmarks of their socialization process. Consequently values get internalized and people accord top priority to self-esteem, human worth, personal pride and collective sense of dignity. They remain conscious of their conduct and carry themselves well during different stages of life. Thus the nation gives birth to principled and exemplary sets of rules upon which the edifice of entire national character is built.

Unfortunately top leaders and pacesetters have started ignoring the core values and tend to remain oblivious of public opinion about their conduct. They violate the basic rules and resort to shortcuts to advance their personal interests. Sometimes their conduct is revealed through their abusive nature as they fearlessly defy laws and frequently indulge in corrupt practices. It appears as if the very meanings of success and triumphed accomplishment have been distorted and misconduct through which the rights of others are shamelessly usurped, have been allowed to function as morbid obsessions of society. Hence, there is a need for the media to educate all those who matter at the helms of affairs to re-orientate their focus and conduct themselves with dignity / honor. The top down model is recommended as it will not only help the general public to follow the suit but would also promote courage and tenacious resolve of our political leaders, social workers and heads of academic institutions to conduct themselves with the requisite poise especially when interacting with foreign leaders and undertaking decisions to engage in businesses having an impact on Pakistan’s image and prestige.

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It has become imperative that political leadership and all others must master the art of preserving Pakistan’s honor by setting self example in all spheres of life. It is unfortunate that in the past, Pakistan’s honour, self-respect and dignity have been sold for a song or for a few personal favours. This continued practice of self aggrandizement at the cost of the nation’s pride must be put to an end.

A fish rots from the head thus to stem the rot, top leadership must set personal standards of self discipline. Corruption is the cancer, which has slowly gnawed at our vitals and left us at the mercy of vultures and carrion eaters, who are waiting for the carcass to fall.

Corrupt practices must not be allowed to remain in vogue and all out / sincere efforts be made to eliminate corruption. The level of corruption has become so all pervasive that it is no longer perceived as an evil. For a mass decontamination of the society to purge corruption, media can play an important role. Evils of society must be highlighted in their real perspective with complete social abhorrence. The initiative must be taken at the highest level to bring on board not only national leaders and opinion builders but also the judiciary so that people begin to identify and take cognizance of evil practices as well while the judiciary metes out exemplary punishments to the wrongdoers.

Top leadership needs to ensure that national cause and honor is observed as supreme / sacred and while interacting with domestic masses and or foreign dignitaries, efforts must be made to enhance Pakistan’s esteem as a respectable nation.  Too often we have seen that our past biases, inborn in our genes, since our forefathers were slaves of the British, we are too often willing to kowtow to white skinned people and at times grant them undue favours.

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Abusive allegations leveled by foreigners like Indians, Afghans and Europeans must be responded with strong assertions using decent and decorous language. Civilized nations use prudence in their considered rebuttals and refutations. Statesmanship emanates from being civil but civility must not be mistaken for weakness.

While making efforts to normalize relations with India and paving the way to hold meeting with Indian Premier, the diplomacy must be developed in a dignified manner. We should neither be blackmailed by India into imposing unwarranted conditions to the visit by the Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan or even meeting on the sidelines of various summits.

Pakistani leadership must not present a weak or timid posture and appear to be too submissive while negotiating peace with hostile neighbors. If India is not ready to cooperate with Pakistani Government, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should maintain his Pakistan’s self respect not bend backwards and trade away our dignity.

Maintaining self-esteem should be made the hallmark of Pakistani leadership. Nations that conduct themselves with dignity and maintain their self respect can conduct the rules of business with their international counterparts with confidence. Mission, vision, clarity of goals, competency, the ability to inspire and effective communication skills make an effective leader.

Some of our leaders have become adept at compromising on our national interests.  They need to understand that compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship. Leaders of nations should be men and not mice. In the words of Robert Browning: Go boldly; go serenely, go augustly; who can withstand thee then!