Tackling the Dignity Deficit

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Timothy Taylor

"Social science, ancient philosophy, and common sense all testify that meaningful work and the means of earned success are vital drivers of happiness, human flourishing, and our sense of basic dignity."

America is facing a number of crises at the moment. Aside from an electorate unwilling to listen to "the other side," employment opportunities for middle-age Americans with little education are dwindling while a surge in alcoholism, opiate abuse, and suicide is on the rise.

These so-called “deaths of despair” are tragic, but the wave is not unstoppable. The so-called dignity deficit does not need to turn into a tsunami that wipes out a generation or more. But the downturn calls for some deep dives where thoughtful solutions can emerge from within our culture, civil society, and yes, even Washington.

To start, there are many reasons people lose their sense of dignity, and a coarse public discourse doesn't help. But even if you've been wronged, it's up to you to respect yourself.

It really doesn’t matter what you’ve been through…or how down you are. The first person that you have is you. The first person that you know is you. You do yourself a great disservice by thinking badly of you. Despite the ingloriousness of your circumstances, you must hold your head high. You must walk tall with pride.

Of course, that's a lot easier to say than do when the "system" is offering few efficient models to help one recover from inglorious circumstances. Still, the goal of policy cannot be to treat the human crisis like a mere "economic inefficiency." Americans need to feel needed and valued. They must be treated as assets to empower, not liabilities to manage.

In this regard, TPOH looks forward to contributions from you on regaining your power.

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