Protecting human dignity

Herman Melville knew a thing or two about human dignity (and its source).

Moby-Dick title page

bq. [I]t is a thing most sorrowful, nay shocking, to expose the fall of valor in the soul. Men may seem detestable as joint stock-companies and nations; knaves, fools, and murderers there may be; men may have mean and meagre faces; but, man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature, that *over any ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes*. That immaculate manliness we feel within ourselves, so far within us, that it remains intact though all the outer character seem gone; bleeds with keenest anguish at the undraped spectacle of a valor-ruined man. Nor can piety itself, at such a shameful sight, completely stifle her upbraidings against the permitting stars. But *this august dignity I treat of, is not the dignity of kings and robes, but that abounding dignity which has no robed investiture*. Thou shalt see it shining in the arm that wields a pick or drives a spike; that democratic dignity which, on all hands, radiates without end from God; Himself! The great God absolute! The centre and circumference of all democracy! His omnipresence, our divine equality!

p. — Herman Melville, _Moby-Dick_ (1851), chap. 26 (emphasis added)

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