The need for respect is universal.  

It is not the prerogative of a few.  

Everyone needs it.  

Loss of respect can drive a man to any length. 

Self-empowerment is very simply a process of taking responsibility for and control of one’s own deeds and actions and ultimately life, governed by one’s own working creed.  

Personal values & principles, self–belief & awareness, life goals & objectives, the ability to confidently and freely express own views & opinions and make independent choices are the key attributes of self-empowerment that take root when one is growing up.   

Self-respect is one of the prime ingredients for self-empowerment that begins to manifest itself when one is maturing in awareness of personal status at home, at work and in society.  

To respect oneself means to have a deep sense of personal dignity, to allow self to come to the fore, to let one’s own light shine, to be fearless in the face of all challenges, to value one’s opinions and feel worthy of oneself in total absence of any disempowering notions like ‘I am a lesser person’.  

Every self-respecting person has feelings, emotions, and desires to be liked and appreciated. To respect oneself, or another human being, even one’s adversary, is most of all self-empowering. It is in self-empowerment that a person truly begins to feel liberated. That is because self-empowered individuals do not depend on others to make them feel good about themselves. They are driven by a clear and meaningful purpose, and the strength to fulfil it is derived from deep within. 

A person who loses self-respect may undergo a massive internal transformational shift to regain it. When Mahatma Gandhi was ejected from a train in South Africa for travelling first class, his dignity, morale, and spirit were so hurt that lying on the platform, this barrister who was on a mission to represent a client in a legal dispute, saw the entire British Empire crumble right before his eyes. That is how powerful his resolution was to eradicate all iniquitous treatment and subjugation of men by men in power. What happened thereafter is history.    

An episode in the life of Dedan Kimathi (taken from my book, ‘Good Bye, Mr Patel’) is a wonderful example of this. This was narrated to me by a, now deceased, Zambian friend of mine. Whilst the facts relative to this episode may not be entirely accurate, this narration nevertheless serves the purpose of conveying the essential message that the need for respect is universal, and any human being will go to any length to regain lost respect. Kimathi, of Kikuyu tribe, came to be recognised as a Kenyan national hero after the independence of his country. However, before independence, he was captured, branded a terrorist, and executed in 1956, aged 36.  

A newspaper journalist once asked what it was that turned him into such a fierce freedom fighter from being a humble farmhand working for a white landowner in Kenya. Dedan stated to this effect, “Yes, that’s true. I was a farmhand working for a white bwana, and I was a loyal and very able man on the farm. He relied on me to carry out great many chores on the farm. He was a kind and generous man. He looked after all the workers, and we lived like a happy family. There was food, shelter, clothing, a clinic and a school for young children, and lots of other livelihoods. Often, I used to take workers’ children for a ride on the trailer attached to the farm tractor which I was privileged to drive for short excursions. I was extremely popular, and the children loved me. One day however, I must have been a little careless; I damaged a piece of vital equipment. This resulted in the power supply being cut off. The bwana got angry and came striding towards me in a fury. Before I could say sorry, he slapped me across the face and refused to listen to my explanation. It was a rare mistake on my part, and the bwana’s anger may have been justified. I stood there feeling helpless and ashamed. But there was a serious lack of judgment on his part. When he hit me in the face, he overlooked the fact that my little boy, then only reaching my waist, was standing beside me. I was grossly humiliated. That evening when I went home, he and my wife did not look me straight in the eye. They were both quiet and clearly most distraught. That night as I lay awake in bed, I realised how badly I had let down my son. I was no longer a hero in his eyes. I was no longer a man who could fix anything on the farm. I was a fallen man. I had lost his respect. Reflecting on this incident that night I decided that I would join the movement for the independence of Kenya, and to remove the foreign masters from my country so that no man ever has to suffer such indignity, and no little boy would have to lose the hero in his father – that no father is made to appear to his son as a feeble, helpless servant of a foreign master.”  

This is truly an amazing account of the length to which someone, who thinks he is a fallen man, can go to regain self-respect and be self-empowered.  

Self-empowerment is not any kind of authority wrested by or vested in a person to exercise power or domination over others.  

It is about power within self to reason, perceive and think independently, and confidently generate bonhomie and goodwill. The self-empowered are self-assured and extremely optimistic individuals, especially in challenging conditions. Being of independent mind, they do not accept anything without proper analysis, reason and understanding, and only when it agrees with them, do they accept it and then live by it. They are fully dedicated to practical education and self-development.  

Their strength of character is what makes them stand out from the crowd. 

You are self-empowered when your 

 entire conduct and deportment 

 are guided by the esoteric force deep within you, 

 not anywhere external. 

Anil Kumar 

July, 2021