On Dignitaries

I’m not a big fan of the word “dignitary.” I think it’s a useless identity for someone’s worth at the expense of people who’re still growing. I’ve been part of service organizations for the past several years and one thing that I’ve come to spite the most is the level of formality and enforced respect one has to give to these “dignitaries.”

Not that anything’s wrong with being respectful, but I think that should be expressed as a natural extension of gratitude. I don’t think someone has to tell me whom to respect. Their words and most importantly actions speak volumes about their worth and hence my respect for them.

Some of these non-profit chapters or clubs boast about their formal tradition and how particular they are about the dress code (suits and ties). And let’s not forget the lapel pins. Oh, everyone’s got to have them! Especially if you’re an Executive Committee (the governing body of a club or a chapter) member.

Here’s my concern — what’s the point? Do you think such telling people what to wear and whom to respect will build an inspiring leadership? Isn’t that what schools do to you? Make everything mechanical until it becomes automatic. Heck, doesn’t this go against our fundametal rights of equality and freedom?

Being a freethinker, I think it downright insults your intellect as a human being. Moreover, if the volunteers at these organizations were so passionate about the “decorum,” do you think anyone would have to tell them what to wear or what to say or whom to respect? I don’t think so, it would have been part of who they are.

I think leaders need to take a step back (and relax!) and ask how their volunteers like to be treated. And most importantly, stop calling yourself a “dignitary”! Everyone is a dignitary! It’s not about you, and it never was.

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