Dolly Parton Turns Down Another Honor, and It's a Monument to What the World Desperately Needs


For those of you in need of one more reason to love Dolly Parton — though you shouldn’t need it — you’ll be satiated by the singer’s recent response to an outstanding honor.


As a tribute to the singer/songwriter/actress, legislators had planned to consider erecting a statue on the Tennessee State Capitol grounds.

But on Thursday, the entertainer downplayed her deservedness and lovingly left lawmakers to address other issues.

Via a statement, she expressed gratitude:

“I want to thank the Tennessee legislature for their consideration of a bill to erect a statue of me on the Capitol grounds. I am honored and humbled by their intention, but I have asked the leaders of the state legislature to remove the bill from any and all consideration.”

I’d respect Dolly just the same without such a reply.

Nonetheless, her example — in my view — is one America can use.

These days, we hear incessant talk of “empowerment.”

People, we’re told, must possess more.

Personally, I disagree.

As I see it, we’re drowning in a sea of self-absorption.

From my article last July:

[T]he world is swallowing itself whole: We’re being devoured by our own narcissism.

The signs are all around.

We live in the age of the selfie stick. Across a global electronic miracle, we post photos of ourselves on pages created by ourselves to showcase…ourselves.

A quick social media perusal reveals a growing wealth of astonishingly polished profiles. We’ve become our own publicists. Celebrity is dead, because we’re each the star of our own show. And many appear in competition to market the best-lived life.

Yet, it seems to me, the lives of so many are empty.

Belief in a higher power is on the steep decline.

And with that goes one’s Greater Purpose.

Where, then, travels our faith? In lieu of a Creator, is it transferred to our own selves?

That can’t be good for the soul.

What’s the superior alternative to arrogance?

Humility. The golden rule.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

It may not foster empowerment, but it grows within us something superior: fulfillment.

In Christianity, there was once a saying: “JOY” is “Jesus, Others, Yourself” — consideration of the three, in that order.

Years ago, I knew someone in Hollywood — an actor; a model. He had reasons to put himself first. Yet he bore a tattooed reminder: “I Am Last.”

I don’t expect that tattoo’s now a popular choice.

Has empowerment served us well?

Put aside politics. Set aside social ideology. Let’s get back to something more practical than perspective: behavior.

And to things more important than oneself: kindness; consideration; thoughtfulness.

Politeness, even.

Remember that? “Please.” “Thank you.”

And those most important words in a society at peace: “I’m sorry.” Where humility lives, so does repentance. And, subsequently, betterment.

We’ve gone from erring on the side of “I apologize” to Americans chanting “Punch a Nazi” — a “Nazi,” in more than some cases, being anyone with whom they disagree.

Yet, we continue to hear it: People need empowerment. Empower yourself.

I have something different to say:

No. Don’t.

We’re not in short supply. We could use more love, which means to serve: “I am last.”

Love is a Greater Purpose, too.

And humility is the path.

If we all were to take it, how different a world it would be.


Dolly Parton — a girl born poor but with great gifts — has taken that path.

She’s had so many reasons not to — looks, talent, success, money, fame.

Yet, here she is — decades into those reasons, saying the following to a nation in need:

“Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time. I hope, though, that somewhere down the road several years from now or perhaps after I’m gone if you still feel I deserve it, then I’m certain I will stand proud in our great State Capitol as a grateful Tennessean.”

You already deserve it, Dolly. More than we deserve you. 

But thank you for reminding us of the qualities that are worthy of being honored.

Regardless of any statue, your light and life are a monument to so many wonderful things.


See more pieces from me:

Dolly Parton Remembers Her Dear Friend, the Late Great Kenny Rogers: ‘I Loved Him as a Wonderful Man’

(VIP) Our World Doesn’t Need Empowerment, We Hurt From a Lack of Humility

Margot Kidder Is Gone, but the Love of Superman — and What It Taught Us — Lives On


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