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Shaking hands with words (respect, serve, regard, tolerate, cooperate, etc.) overlayedNo Respect? Not An Option.

 

When I was growing up I was taught to respect three things: Authority, my elders, and myself. Having ‘no respect’ for any given person or situation was a punishable (yes, that was a thing) offense.

It was pretty simple. If an officer or teacher told me to do something I was to do it. If I was addressing someone older than me it was to be by “Mr” or “Ms/Mrs”. If I was going to do or say something I was to first consider if it was the right thing to do based upon the situation and the participants.

Respecting these things was not presented as an option. It was not a pick and choose scenario. It was a written-in-stone edict that I was to follow at all costs. It was the brick and mortar upon which all my other lessons would be set. It was also a basic tenet of the world in which we lived. It may have been taught, and/or, enforced differently by all my friends parents, but it was taught nonetheless.

Respect Is An Obstacle – Or Is It?

 

Of course, I questioned this way of doing things at the time. In my childish mind I felt that respecting these things always, and in every situation, was in direct opposition to being myself and being able to voice my own opinion. It also put a serious obstacle in the way of being able to get what I wanted, whenever I wanted it. As I grew older I questioned my parents.

This was when they taught me that it was okay to question anything and everything as long as I did so with respect and positive intent. My father taught me that respect for these things did not have to mean I agreed with them. It only meant that they needed to be given the benefit of the doubt and, if need be, challenged with respect and tact.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not and old man grousing about the way we were. I’m not lamenting the missed opportunity to be called Mr by my neighbors children the way their parents were by me. I am just trying to call attention to the glaring lack of respect that we, as a nation, currently suffer from.

 

Respect Is A Foreign Concept

 

The concept of respect is foreign to us as a people now. We have forgotten the lesson we learned and, in so doing, failed to pass it on to our children. We run roughshod now in our never ending quest to get what we want, when we want it. Our actions and words are put forth as if nothing, and no one, else mattered. We do not consider the situation or the other people affected by it. We simply lash out on Facebook or twitter like petulant children demanding our desires.

 

Social Media Eliminates The Need For Respect

 

Every problem we face as a county today is a direct result of this missing edict coupled with the ease of opinion sharing provided by social media. We form our ideas and opinions without respect, and then spread them to the masses. Once unleashed they are feasted upon, digested, and regurgitated ad infinitum. We do not respect authority. We do not respect our elders. We do not respect ourselves.

The result is the creation of entire movements based upon, and geared towards, the individuals right to have their every desire sated regardless of how it affects anyone else. We want to do and say as we please with no repercussions. Anyone that gets in the way of that is fodder for the social media masses. Facts no longer matter because no one respects themselves, or others, enough to check them before hopping on the bandwagon.

 

Respect Is A Two-Way Street

 

I assure you there is a better way. Everything and everyone can, and should, be questioned. The questions, respectfully asked, allow us to move forward, and be better as a nation and a people. Lack of respect is a killer of that process. It fosters hatred and unleashes vitriol. It sends valid points to wither and die upon deaf ears. You see respect, as I recall, is a two way street. If I put forth an opinion without respect for the intended audience I cannot logically expect a respectful reply. No matter how valid my point disdain and disrespect are the only possible return.

Respectfully yours,

Dave

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