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Treating People With Dignity And Respect Makes a Decent Man

Earlier this week I hosted a webinarA Matter of Power & Dignity: Resolving Conflict & Discrimination”.

This same week a row erupted in Washington following a verbal attack on the representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by representative Ted Yoho on the steps of Capitol Hill. During the incident Ocasio-Cortez said Yoho called her a “Fucking Bitch”. Yoho denies this. But a reporter for The Hill witnessed the exchange and confirmed Ocasio-Cortez’s version of events.

Yoho later gave an apology of sorts, but Ocasio-Cortez rejected it in a very impressive speech in which she “expertly explained sexism to the world”, in the view of Vogue Magazine.

During the speech she talks of power and of dignity and argues “treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”

Ocasio-Cortez speaks as someone who is conscious of her own self-worth, her own sense of dignity. She says she does not need or want his apology, and she is easily able to resist his attack. In this way she shows the power of dignity. It gave her the power to fight the injustice and overcome the power of the attacker.

Providing the provocation in the webinar I hosted this week was Donna Hicks, author of two books on the topic of dignity and an Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University. She is an expert in conflict resolution and speaks about leading with dignity which is also the title of her second book.

There were three responses to the provocation. I gave one of them. My response was in the form of story by Samantha Power, an expert in human rights and international affairs who served for 4 years as President Barack Obama’s human rights adviser and then as US Ambassador to the United Nations. The story was recently published an autobiographical book, The Education of an Idealist.

Chapter 4 is titled “Dignity”. It begins with a description of her first day at her new high school in America. She realised she was not the only new starter. Hundreds of African American students were also starting. Their arrival was controversial and considered newsworthy. Reporters were there to cover the story.

Continue reading this story which was originally posted on Medium

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