Honour, nobleness; or in other words dignity

Honour, nobleness, or dignity… I want to talk about the condition that is called dignity in English. When there is talk about a noble man, I think of a patient of mine by the name of Serkan. He had leukaemia and underwent a bone marrow transplant. His doctors asked me to see him.

When I went there his mother and father were by his side. He was asleep. He woke up and set up in his bed. The picture I was facing was one I would never forget; he had no nose! An incurable fungal infection had disfigured his face. My first response was “an immediate consultation with the plastic surgeon is needed!” I had considered it appropriate that the nose should be repaired! Serkan with his dignified attitude said: “there is no need professor!”… “Will it not disappear one day anyway?” he added. This attitude was like a slap in my face… I came to my senses… I wanted to bow down to the 23 year old law student with great respect. The doctors had requested my consultation because they could not bare their own psychology. A short while later we lost Serkan. But his dear memory is still in my heart. From that day on my understanding of death changed. I came to believe that one should face everything with more resignation. My love of human dignity became twice as strong! Years later I read an article, the heading was “dignity therapy”. It was proposed as a treatment technique for cancer patients in the final stages of their disease. It was requested that they talk about their past achievements. They were trying to support the patient through the respect he feels for himself… As we all know, humans are week and ambitious… But the smallest strength and humility really does have an effect. Another patient of mine who demonstrated that religious belief is not essential in order to be dignified, is Mrs Emriye. Again we met because of her bone marrow transplant. She had such a rational system of thought, she had so fundamentally accepted that death is an inevitable event and had managed to remain upright, she became not only my mentor but the mentor of everyone else who knew her. After all these stories, in brief I think “dignity” consists of overcoming the essential fear of death… It seems to be the work of higher souls… the accomplishment of those who possess the divine… It is not something that for instance a psychopath who worships the material values of the world, can understand… In other words, dignity is the condition of love, respect devotion…

Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan