Dr. Donna Hicks, an associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, was here at Thunderbird on Thursday to talk about dignity and its role in resolving conflicts. She has been a facilitator during international conflicts for 20 years which includes Middle East, Sri Lanka, Columbia, Cuba and Northern Ireland, and the United States. “It is not the intellectual deficiencies that hinder these negotiations. There are non-verbal conversations happening under the table”, she shared her experience from negotiations. These conflicts mostly involve violation of dignity and this is not just about individuals, it can break relationship between countries.
She defined dignity as an inherent priceless value which is also vulnerable. Dignity, she explained, is different from respect. Respect is something that the beholder earns, while dignity is natural and innate. It is proven by UCLA Social Neurology researchers that dignity violation affects the brain similar to a physical injury. And the difference is that physical injuries are healed as time passes while dignity wounds are not. Pretending that dignity violation never happened cannot heal the wounds. It is necessary to acknowledge and make sure that it is healed.
She also spoke about 10 elements of dignity which include acceptance, recognition, acknowledgement and understanding. It is necessary to give a person the benefit of doubt, when you are unsure of the person’s character. And to add to all these, apologize when you are wrong.
She ended the speech by saying, “Don’t forget that it is our duty to be happy!” For further information on dignity or to become a dignity agent, www.declaredignity.com can be visited.