As babies we have none of it, as children we want it not and as we age and grow weak and decrepit it slips away from us as our bodies let us down. But for most of our lives we value our dignity. If die we must at least let us die with our dignity intact.
Sadly this was not allowed to one young Indian woman who died in a hospital, a long way from home. Savita Halappanavar died from childbirth complications in a modern western hospital. She was, as least in part, the victim of the medieval and sexist influence of the Catholic Church dominance of schools and hospitals in Ireland. The chaotic state of abortion guidelines for the medical profession in Ireland is a throwback to the misogyny of a church which does not permit priests to marry, but tolerates their abuse of children. Where is the dignity in that?
Half way around the world another Indian girl died in a hospital a long way from home. Victim of a brutal gang rape and a subsequent assault designed to kill her in the most undignified way possible. To add to her misery the police, instead of caring for her, argued with each other over juristiction at the scene.
And what of the rapists? Products of a Delhi slum. Do they have dignity? Did they ever?
How can we protect dignity in others if we have never known it ourselves? For this reason I am very proud of my 16 year old son, who is travelling to Kolkata in February. His mission is to bring dignity to the street children of that city. That is a gift that will last a lifetime, and more. Once you give dignity to a child they will want to pass it on to their own children.
If you would like to know more about his trip you can follow his blog on wordpress:
and if you are moved to help him reach his target, press this link. He is over three-quarters of the way there, so please help him make his target.
As for those two Indian ladies who died in such tragic circumstances, I offer a poem out of respect. May they rest in peace and live long in the hearts of their loved ones.
Break, break, break ; by Alfred Lord Tennyson