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DIGNITY IN AFRICAN TRADITION

by Dr. Joseph A. Bailey II, MD., FACS on 3rd-January-2017

At least a thousand years before the Jewish concept of humans being made in the image of God (Genesis 1, 27), African Sages said the sanctity of life is the central pillar inside each human’s Character. By ones Character being a psychophysiological faculty—like the “Halo” from the Divine Consciousness comprising the core of ones Soul–Ma’at living affects all of ones Selfhood. The concept of humans possessing the same quality Spark of God but lacking the same quantity was first recorded as being introduced by the African Kheti in the “Sebait of Kheti.” Being for his son Meritkara during the First Intermediate Period (c. 4188—3448 BC), Kheti’s comments not only provide the earliest known concept of humans as the images of God, but it also poses them as God’s offspring (Karenga, Ma’at, p. 318). By humans viewed as bearers of Dignity and Divinity–both characterizing what it means to be human—implied Dignity pertains to all parts of an individual created by God. In other words, since God’s inner nature is Unconditional Love and outer nature is Life–and since each human is made in the image of God, Dignity is established in each person, including the ungodly. The African Tradition conviction that a human’s Dignity is a natural endowment by God is summarize in the African maxim: “All persons are children of God; no one is a child of the earth.” Each human’s unique way of showing Dignity are in the categories of Spiritual Respect, Selfless Service, Compassion, Devotion to God, as well as having good behaviors toward and good relationships with fellow good people. Regardless of how these display by a given human, they are African Tradition expressions of Caring for the Dignity and feelings of others, deriving from ones “Heart” and properly balanced for each situation by ones “Head.” So important was this that African Tradition’s Ankh, representing the "sap of life" (meaning milk), signifies ones own Dignity (the Substance of God) and Divinity–both at the core of ones Selfhood Greatness. As a result, Ancient Africans said: first, "The most natural way to live is by what spontaneously flows from ones Soul Divine Consciousness–i.e. Dignity (ones God image) and Divinity"; second, by being of incalculable magnitude and powered by unlimited potential power, Dignity is what provides the symbolic atmosphere to each human newborn’s Selfhood Greatness. 

The most direct way to know God, said Ancient Egyptians, is to study God’s natural manifestations (Ashby, Egyptian Yoga, p. 50).  By so doing, any human remainsin the flow of the Divine Laws of Ma’at. So, to stay in that flow of the Ultimate Standard of African Right Life Living is called living by Ma’at Principles. It fashions the Spiritual Elements into attributes by ones Pure Emotions and Pure Intellect. The resultant ‘big picture’ of "Living Right" means one is a “ME/WE” enhancer of the Cosmic Organism. The foundational point about Dignity and each and all of its associated Worth type of Values—e.g. those comprising Integrity—is its presence in every individual, making it incapable of being diminished. Yet, violent attacks on people’s Dignity from the Ignorant, Foolish, Stupid, and Wicked lead to Shame Experiences from ones eye seeing oneself, like in a shattered mirror, as multiple images of inadequacy. To do what it takes to cause “Defeated people” to see beyond their Shame gives a new perception that enables them to realize their own Dignity. Then, these assaults will roll off them, as happens with water running off a duck’s back.  Otherwise, when there are human-made alterations put into what constitutes Dignity, or any of its aspects, people doubt whether they possess Dignity or not—and doubt causes many to go in all sorts of wrong directions. 

One dictionary defines Dignity as: “The quality or state of deserving esteem or respect”; “Esteem”—to regard with respect; “Respect,” to esteem; “Regard,” to observe closely; and “Deserve,” to earn. A second only says what Dignity does: “to infer a high rank, title, or office, especially in the church”; Dignify: “to give a high sounding name to”. A third merely gives Dignity’s attributes: “bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion; degree of excellence, either in estimation or order of nature.” Note: none say what Dignity actually is. African Tradition says: Dignity is an in-born inherent Worthiness—a human’s Divine Background for Self-Worth—a Self-Meaning healthy birth gift of Self-Esteem because it conveys an implicit awareness of being a vital part of the Circle of Cosmic Wholism. jabaileymd.com

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