Putting respect into perspective

I’m a step-dad. I’ve been a step-dad for about eight years now. During that time I have learned so many important lessons. One of the single most import of those lessons was that of respect. The “R” word is that thing, not only sung out loud and proud by the Queen of Soul, but something that every person on the planet needs to understand to its fullest.

Understand and perfect.

But respect goes well beyond “respecting your elders”. In fact, respect should be applied to every facet of your life — and shouldn’t be something you have to constantly re-learn. But… it is. On a daily basis, I am reminded how much effort and energy goes into adopting new ways of thinking. But honestly, respect shouldn’t be a “new way of thinking” — it should just be.

But so few understand the concept. This is especially true of what I call the “Me Generation”. Anyone between the ages of, say, fifteen and twenty-five are guilty of tossing out respect like it was yesterday’s meme. That I’ve seen ad-nauseum and it makes me mad enough to punch nuns (no disrespect intended). Of course, a lack of respect isn’t limited to angsty teens and twenty-somethings. I’ve seen adults suffer from this same lack in ways I simply cannot comprehend. I’ve witnessed, firsthand, adults with a lack of respect for:

  • One another
  • Their spouse
  • Their children
  • Their art
  • Other’s art
  • Opinions of others
  • Hard work
  • Intelligence
  • Language
  • Self

Here’s an interesting task for you. Tune into nearly any given reality show and count how many times you watch an adult show disrespect for something… anything! Or hop onto Facebook and behold the deluge of hatred, vitriol, the pointing of fingers, and the incessant whining and complaining. And just how often do you directly witness people showing respect for themselves or others?

Disrespect is rampant. Society has lost this coveted gentility and I want to do everything I can to win that back. I hope I can convince you to join me on this new hayride. This means we help those that seem to not get it… to get it. That begins by looking inward. If everyone makes a tiny change in the way they deal with others (or social networking, etc), I firmly believe we can make this ride a hell of a lot more enjoyable.

One of my favorite quotes regarding respect comes from Antoine de Saint-Exupery. That quote is:

I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.