self-respect

Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life, and as being worthy of happiness. Thus, it consists of two components: (1) self-efficacy — confidence in one’s ability to think, learn, choose, and make appropriate decisions; and (2) self-respect — confidence that love, friendship, achievement, success — in a word, happiness — are natural and appropriate.

Man works primarily for his own self-respect and not for others or for profit. . . the person who is working for the sake of his own satisfaction, the money he gets in return serves merely as fuel, that is, as a symbol of reward and recognition, in the last analysis, of acceptance by one's fellowmen.

Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure. A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man's self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.

We could talk further about the importance of finding an occupation that both gives you a sense of self-respect and provides the resources to live an autonomous life. We talk in Habits of the Heart, about these issues-how for many Americans, at various levels in the occupational hierarchy, the job somehow doesn't prove adequate in fulfilling one's autonomous self and often becomes a means-an instrument-to the acquisition of those resources which will allow one to live in a private lifestyle that will somehow fulfill this expectation that we will find this unique person-who we really are-and attain self-realization, self-fulfillment, happiness. The terms are several but they all point in the same direction. But when we press the question, "What are the criteria that tell us what happiness is or that define the wants that when they are satisfied will lead to self-realization?", then the confident tones that we have been hearing begin to falter. And instead of any clear notion of any content there is simply the reassertion of "Whatever for you that fulfillment or happiness may be." It is not surprising that Americans turn to psychology as the place that is focused on that inner self.

I agree with you entirely that the colored men are entitled to the same rights, privileges and benefits as are accorded their white brethren, and I think you are aware that I have my life long endeavored, and am still endeavoring, to accomplish that fact. . . . In fact several organizations have held aloof from affiliating to the American Federation of Labor because they believe they cannot refuse membership to colored men if these organizations should become affiliated. Several central bodies in the southern states have refused to to receive delegates from unions who are colored men. Charters of several bodies were revoked in the past because of such action, but this course did not result in the representation of the colored men in the central bodies; it simply acted in disrupting the organization. As a consequence, several years ago another course was determined upon [to issue separate charters if that served the best interests of the movement]. . . . Conditions are as they are, not as we would like them to be or hope for them to become, but the race prejudice exists in the south and it is best for the colored men, as well as for our movement that they be accounted with. Indeed the very fact that your local union #1782 of New Orleans is composed of colored men as distinguished from the other local unions of carpenters . . . composed of white men, is the best evidence that your local unions of white men would not accept the membership of colored men among them.

A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual. [...] If you are rich and are worth your salt, you will teach your sons that though they may have leisure, it is not to be spent in idleness; for wisely used leisure merely means that those who possess it, being free from the necessity of working for their livelihood, are all the more bound to carry on some kind of non-remunerative work in science, in letters, in art, in exploration, in historical research—work of the type we most need in this country, the successful carrying out of which reflects most honor upon the nation. We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life. It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort. Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been stored up effort in the past. A man can be freed from the necessity of work only by the fact that he or his fathers before him have worked to good purpose. If the freedom thus purchased is used aright, and the man still does actual work, though of a different kind, whether as a writer or a general, whether in the field of politics or in the field of exploration and adventure, he shows he deserves his good fortune. But if he treats this period of freedom from the need of actual labor as a period, not of preparation, but of mere enjoyment, even though perhaps not of vicious enjoyment, he shows that he is simply a cumberer of the earth's surface, and he surely unfits himself to hold his own with his fellows if the need to do so should again arise.

Of all the bewildering things about a new country, the absence of human landmarks is one of the most depressing and disheartening.

You say, Where goest Thou? I cannot tell, And still go on. But if the way be straight I cannot go amiss: before me lies Dawn and the day: the night behind me: that Suffices me: I break the bounds: I see, And nothing more; believe and nothing less. My future is not one of my concerns.

So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand.

If I were to work ten hours a day at work I despised and hated, I should spend my leisure I hope — in political agitation, but I fear — in drinking.

Out of the doctrine of original sin grew the crimes and miseries of asceticism, celibacy and witchcraft; woman becoming the helpless victim of all these delusions.

Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.

Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot consider themselves nobler, better, grander, more intelligent than those living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.

While there's life there's hope.