It’s important for our own integrity and the integrity of our country to fight for our convictions in the public square. Anything less is a kind of cowardice. But the greater task is to live what we claim to believe by our actions—fidelity to God, love for spouse and children; loyalty to friends; generosity to the poor; honesty and mercy in dealing with others; trust in the goodness of people; discipline and humility in demanding the most from ourselves.

These things sound like pieties, and that’s all they are. Until we try to live them. Then their cost and their difficulty remind us that we create a culture of human dignity in the measure that we give our lives to others. Nations change when people change. And people change through the witness of other people—people like each of you here today. You make the future. You build it stone by stone with the choices you make.

“We create a culture of human dignity in the measure that we give our lives to others.” These words come from Archbishop Chaput’s recent talk in Utah, published in First Things.

These words struck me as a better way to address human dignity’s thorny and divergent meanings, when I wrote recently that “dignity is a gift.”