BetterHelp is an online therapy website that has come along somewhat recently. While researching about how moral values relate to dignity, I came across this article on their website regarding what dignity is, and I quickly found myself scrunching my forehead at how misleading it is.
They list the three definitions of dignity from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
- Formal reserve or seriousness of manner, appearance, or language
- The quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed
- A high rank, office, or position
They essentially deny the value of any of these definitions, of which I am fairly certain most people would agree upon. It's basically 'The first definition focuses too much on what others think about us, the second ignores that dignity is developed within us, and the third again focuses too much on what society thinks'.
The article goes on to explain why dignity is about valuing yourself, loving yourself, having high self-esteem, etc. While these sound positive and virtuous, I don't think it's what "dignity" really means, nor do I think telling people to only focus on themselves is going to help them solve their problems - a quarrel I have with common therapy technique.
Instead of defining dignity as being worthy of respect from the other millions of members of our society, they exclaim that being dignified means having a sense of self-worth, self-esteem, self-love, self-appreciation, self-care, and self confidence. I agree that these are good things to keep in check, but they do not define dignity. Using this article's logic, all Adolph Hitler would have had to do to gain full dignity was value himself, think highly of himself, love himself, appreciate himself, care for himself and have confidence in himself.
The entire point of dignity is that you are worthy of respect from others - you embody qualities that other people generally respect, such as openness to change, humility, loyalty, accountability, resiliency, respect for others, honesty, and an otherwise strong moral foundation. I have no idea what motive BetterHelp has to completely twist the true meaning of dignity, but whatever the motive is, I disagree with the thesis. If you need a word for something, make a new one; Please don't twist the definition of a word that is already defined.