Malala, dignity and more T-words for a beautiful person

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, December 5, 2012

Last week’s column about Dijla Al-Rekabi and the touch of humanity she experienced while undergoing surgery recently in a Calgary hospital generated many responses from our coffee companions. It also generated quite a few additions to the list of six T’s of a beautiful person that came out of her story. (As you may recall, those six T-words were digni-T, humani-T, humili-T, integri-T, modes-T, and sensitivi-T.)

As Stoney Nakoda Elder Tina Fox commented, Dijla’s is “a beautiful story of respect,” a view shared by many around town.

Of course, the compassionate co-star in Dijla’s story was her anesthesiologist, Dr. Mark Kostash. Lois Yasinko, of Cochrane, was not at all surprised that he was Dijla’s hero in her account. Lois pointed me to a feature article on his humanitarian work through Doctors Without Borders in the Nov. 22 edition of Neighbours, published by the Calgary Herald.

Many of our readers, inspired by Dijla’s story of respect, took up the challenge of suggesting other T-words that characterize a truly beautiful person.

In fact, Dr. John Daintree, of Cochrane, suggested seven words!  I especially liked his addition of serendipi-T, the discernment of the unexpectedly delightful amidst the painful experiences of life. That certainly describes Dijla to a T.

And word-specialist Phil Minnaar, author of the Positive Dictionary, immediately drew from its contents the beautiful word, sinceri-T.

Responding all the way from Mumbai, India, Raj Patwardhan suggested simplici-T. “Simple things are beautiful,” he said. “Someone once told me that somewhere in the Bible it says that God made life simple, but we humans make it complicated.”

HR consultant and motivator Lori Craig, of Calgary, has an ongoing dialogue with me about how each of us can be fans for each other’s flagging spirits to rekindle them into a full, radiant flame. She suggested her own newly-created word for this occasion: FANi-T.

Getting to the heart of the matter, Cochrane-based author, keynote speaker and inspirer of greatness David Irvine contributed a word that has become the theme of much of his work and captures the essence of what I understand a beautiful person to be: authentici-T.

“Authentici-T gets to the core of who we are, our spiritual essence,” he wrote. “Like the work of an artist, your authentic presence is the magnificent expression of God's handiwork. What more beauty can there possibly be?”

Here, then, divided into three categories, is a summary of all 27 T-words that have been suggested as descriptive in some way of a beautiful person: 

Trust-related words: credibili-T,  fideli-T, hones-T, integri-T, loyal-T, probi-T, reliabili-T, and sinceri-T.

Words related to a person’s relational qualities toward others or toward life as a whole: approachabili-T, civili-T, creativi-T, FANi-T, generosi-T, humani-T, humili-T, magnanimi-T, reliabili-T, sensitivi-T, and serendipi-T.

Words descriptive of a beautiful person’s attitude toward, and respect for, themselves: authentici-T, digni-T, felici-T, maturi-T, modes-T, simplici-T, stabili-T, and tranquili-T.

Note that nowhere among these suggestions is there even a hint of physical attributes or glamour as noteworthy features of a truly beautiful person.

Nor, for clearly obvious reasons, did anyone suggest brutali-T or barbari-T.

To the contrary, all the T-word suggestions relate unequivocally to human digni-T.

I’d like to wrap up this column with a special tribute to a young woman who is unquestionably characterized by just such beauty, Malala Yousafzai.

Malala is the 15-year-old Pakistani advocate for women’s rights to an education in her homeland. Because of her valiant efforts in the face of Taliban barbarity and brutality, she has been touted by many as worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.

She is currently undergoing extensive medical treatment in Britain following an attempt by Taliban gunmen this October to assassinate her while she was returning home on a school bus.

They’d shot her in the head with gunshots that have echoed throughout Pakistan and around the world – gunshots that have drawn attention to the human rights that all girls and women everywhere should be free to enjoy.

Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, said recently in a BBC interview:

"Malala stands for the human dignity, tolerance and pluralism. She has drawn with her sacred blood a clear line between barbarity and human civilisation. Her voice is the voice of the people of Pakistan and all downtrodden and deprived children of the world."

Civili-T’s triumph over barbari-T? YES! The beauty of human digni-T!


© 2012 Warren Harbeck

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