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DIGNITAS.

Written 6.24.20 by Paul Waggener

I’ve been running the program of life reform called Operation Werewolf for quite a few years now.

What began as a journal of my intentions and goals to recover my life from despair and poison became a more outward expression- something I hoped would help other people like me find their way.

It evolved into something of a “starter kit,” a crash course on health and fitness, mental strength, and tribal organization that many people around the world connected with, and made their own.

There have been aspects of it that have certainly been gratifying- I’ve met many people of very high caliber in several different countries, several of whom I call my friends now.

There have been breathtaking moments I wouldn’t trade for anything- watching the setting sun glint off a perfectly clear lake hidden deep in the German forests with my European brothers.

Standing in an open window at the top of a castle overlooking the Thuringian countryside as a sudden hailstorm hit and turned the landscape white and wild in a few minutes.

Sharing an emotional moment on a bridge in the small Italian village of Chioggia, sharing quiet words with Norwegians and Serbians as the sunset smeared purples and reds across the night sky.

Waist deep in the cold water of the ocean off the coast of Jutland, under the stern gaze of a wooden statue of Thor as my Scandinavian brother Nino baptized us with beer and we sang the cold away. 

But for all this, I have found much of it to be frustrating, embarrassing, and ugly.

I feel a bit like Victor Frankenstein must have when he beheld his creation and saw that he had indeed created life, but of what kind?

There are many things that have created this feeling of revulsion in me when I see people claiming affiliation, many things that if they had simply read what I’ve written, they would understand that this is “not for them.”

Perhaps the most grotesque of these behaviors is how many lack simple modesty.

There is a certain clownish absurdity in acting vainglorious when your achievements are plebeian.

Boasting of your amateur lifts while world champions maintain a grounded humility.

Posting your comically poor fighting or grappling form with combative words like “what the hell did *you* do today,” while people who could break every bone in your body exist quietly in training facilities in every city across the world.

Proclaiming yourself a leader of some kind while displaying a total lack of discipline or self-awareness, a total lack of responsibility or leadership-worthy qualities.

It seems in this age, we have lost our sense of dignity, and our sense of humility.

Before anyone begins weeping or gnashing the teeth about me writing about “Christian virtues,” let’s look at definitions and etymologies for just a moment:

modesty (n.)

1530s, “freedom from exaggeration, self-control,” from Middle French modestie or directly from Latin modestia “moderation, sense of honor, correctness of conduct”

humility (n.)

early 14c., “quality of being humble,” from Old French umelite “humility, modesty” (Modern French humilité), humilis“lowly, humble,” literally “on the ground,” from humus “earth,” from PIE root *dhghem-“earth.”

I like the idea of humility coming from “humus,” or “earth.” I have always understood the word to mean not “self-deprecating,” but instead- grounded.

Even if our goals are in the stratosphere, our feet are rooted in the earth, and our sense of awareness of our own achievements must be “free from exaggeration.”

The word humility is also where we get the mafia term “omertà,” being a code of conduct or sense of honor in keeping with the definition we see of modesty, above.

The term dignity simply means “worthy,” that is, a state of being worthy of respect or honor. The root of the word means “accept,” implying that respect is not something taken- it is something that one can only accept when it is given.

You do not create respect and honor for yourself by being a braggart, or a loudmouth.

You attain and enter into the state of dignity by being modest about your achievements, even when they may be great.

The understanding that there is always someone greater than yourself, and if there is no one greater in your field, you show modesty and a humble nature to those beneath you, and inspire them to become better, by lifting them up or challenging them in a way that is *dignified*.

If there is anything I regret at this point, it is that I began the external process of this operation without making these traits the bedrock.

In my own tribe, there is a line of our oath, in which we swear to be not just strong or war-like, but also to be kind.

There is no weakness in modesty, no cowardice in kindness.

There is a calm strength that begins to flow like a spring in the ground, in the humus, when the ego is slowly loosed and we become more modest, more measured, more honorable, more kind.

My spring is still just a trickle, but I believe it will one day become an ocean, and that ocean will be named dignitas.