Take care of one another, feel better about yourself

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael J. Allshouse
  • 55th Mission Support Group, commander
Human dignity is a funny thing because not everyone views it the same way.

In 2008, the President's Council on Bioethics attempted to arrive at a consensus about what human dignity meant, but failed. Dr. Edmund D. Pellegrino, the council's chairman, stated in the letter of transmittal to the President of The United States, "... there is no universal agreement on the meaning of the term human dignity."

You can see differences in its interpretation by our political parties and by different factions of people as well. Some of the reasons can be traced to people's heritage, in the way they were raised, and in a large variety of internal and external influences. It doesn't have to be this difficult though. I would suggest that human dignity isn't so much what we view it as, but more about what behavior others expect from us.

Webster's dictionary defines the word dignity as "formal, grave, or noble bearing, conduct or speech -- nobility or elevation of character; worthiness." The human part refers to us. Referencing Webster again, human is defined as "pertaining to, or characteristic of mankind -- consisting of people -- of or pertaining to the social aspect or character of people -- sympathetic; humane."

Simply put, human dignity is the way people treat one another.  But who decides how that should happen? The answer is simple -- you do.

The way we behave toward one another is probably the most important thing we do in a society. As the golden rule states, "we must treat others the way we would like to be treated ourselves." It's very comforting to me when a good Samaritan helps my family or me. Hopefully, and I would be willing to bet, that it's equally comforting when you are a good Samaritan for those around you. I'm sure those moments made you feel even better about yourself.

Helping others, even if they aren't requesting help, is very satisfying, and sometimes very uplifting. It all refers back to Freud's id, ego and super ego of the human psyche. We all need to do things that make us feel useful and wanted. Helping those around us and paying them some human dignity fulfills some of our needs and wants.

You can apply this to every aspect of your life. Whether you are dealing with your friends, your family, your co-workers or just some incidental acquaintance, remember how you want to be treated and treat others that same way.

At work, keep our core values in mind -- integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Employing integrity to everything you do, including the way you treat others, will keep you honest. Remember to serve your beliefs first before you put yourself in front. Finally, pay attention to the details and do the best job that you can do. If you can do these three things, others will respect you for your dignity.

If you want to really feel good about yourself, take care of yourself and help others out along the way. Start to spread a little good will and human dignity and it will grow. It works like a waterway; little creeks flow into small tributaries that flow into bigger rivers that flow into oceans, but it all starts with a small stream of water.

You can be that small stream that starts an ocean of good will and I guarantee, you will feel better about yourself and others will feel the same about you. Who knows, some little obscure thing you do for someone today may make a big difference in his or her life without you even knowing. The chance of that happening is motivation enough for me to remember basic human dignity and to treat others the same way I would like to be treated. I hope it is enough for you too.