The Tao of Roark

by Peter Saint-Andre

Chapter 38: Dignity

Previous: Chapter 37: Freedom

In Les Misérables, Victor Hugo says that work makes one free and thought makes one worthy of freedom.

To be worthy of freedom is to have a fundamental dignity of soul.

Dignity means idealism without partisanship, self-possession without self-importance, purpose without anxiety, perspective without detachment. It means being thoughtful but not argumentative, steadfast but not stolid, serious but joyful, patient but not complacent, respectful but not cold, quiet but not numb, active but not frenzied. It means strength, poise, style, and grace.

There is no substitute for personal dignity, and no standard of dignity except independence. Not the surface independence of fads and fashions, but independence where it matters most: the autonomy of my source of energy in life; being self-motivated and self-generated and self-sufficient in spirit; finding in myself, in my highest ideals, and in my aspirations for excellence a first cause, a fount of energy, a life force.

Dignity, too, is a height that I can approach only gradually and indirectly. For what is dignity but worth, merit, character, excellence? These things emerge only in the fullness of time. I must grow into dignity through spiritual maturity, moral ambition, and creative aspiration over a span of many years.

Next: Chapter 39: Depth

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