The Dignity Pledge

I originally wrote and posted this pledge during 2008 campaign season when I had reached my limit of hateful and disrespectful emails from friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances. Curiously, it is still appropriate today; even more so with the rise in use of facebook and twitter as a means to express political views. Feel free to call me out if I fall short on this in my postings, twitter and/or facebook comments. And feel free to share, forward or link.

  • I will not criticize others for views they hold that are different from mine. It is our right to hold differing opinions from others, and our obligation as defenders of freedom to respect those differences.
  • I will not write, forward, or respond to emails, jokes, cartoons or blog entries that do not adhere to simple standards of human dignity, respect and honesty. I will not distribute hatefulness disguised as humor. If I would not be prepared to share a joke in a high school class lecture – or with the person featured in the joke — I will not circulate it in my personal email or under my signature.
  • I will hold others accountable for the views they express and the actions they take today. I am not the same person that I was 25 or 10 or four years ago; I have continued to grow, my opinions have evolved, my perspectives changed. I will give others credit for growth and change, and judge them by who they are today. The path we take to get here is not always straight and narrow, but can nonetheless help us to grow in wisdom today.
  • I will not judge others by the words and actions of the people with whom they associate or may have associated in the past. I would not want to be held accountable for the view of all of my friends and family, whose positions on a variety of issues important to our lives vary about as widely as humanly possible.
  • I will judge others by what I observe directly of their words and actions, to the extent possible seeking out good faith, impartial characterization of those words and actions to which I do not have direct personal access.
  • I will allow people to be human; specifically, I will judge people by the degree they keep the principles they espouse in general, not by singular occasions in which those principles are breached. Particularly for those in public life, I would not want to face the glare of unremitting scrutiny which highlights and does not forgive the occasional human lapse from grace.
  • I will not complain about a problem without taking action to resolve the problem that concerns me, or proposing a course of action that I and others can take to make it better, or asking for help in identifying a solution to the problem that I am not able to address on my own.

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