Virtue of the Week: Self-Respect

To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves – there lies the great, singular power of self-respect.
There are many who find the burdens, the anxiety, and the isolation of an individual existence unbearable. This is particularly true when the opportunities for self-advancement are relatively meager, and one’s individual interests and prospects do not seem worth living for. Such persons sooner or later turn their backs on an individual existence and strive to acquire a sense of worth and a purpose by identifying with a holy cause, a leader, or a movement. The faith and pride they derive from joining this cause serves them as a substitute for their lack of self-confidence and self-respect.

IDENTITY
By Julio Noboa, Jr.

Let them be as flowers,
always watered, fed, guarded, admired,
but harnessed to a pot of dirt.
I’d rather be a tall, ugly weed,
clinging on cliffs, like an eagle
wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks.
To have broken through the surface of stone,
to live, to feel exposed to the madness
of the vast, eternal sky.
To be swayed by the breezes of an ancient sea,
carrying my soul, my seed, beyond the mountains of time
or into the abyss of the bizarre.
I’d rather be unseen, and if
then shunned by everyone,
than to be a pleasant-smelling flower,
growing in clusters in the fertile valley,
where they’re praised, handled, and plucked
by greedy, human hands.
I’d rather smell of musty, green stench
than of sweet, fragrant lilac.
If I could stand alone, strong and free,
I’d rather be a tall, ugly weed.