Let’s Talk About Respect

Last Friday, I proposed four key ingredients we need to cultivate within ourselves if we want to work to reduce tensions in our society and bring about a more peaceful and loving world. They are: respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. When combined, these four values become a powerful force for good.

Today, I focus upon the value of respect. I’ll begin by restating my original call for respect: “We must commit ourselves to valuing the worth and dignity of each individual being. Mutual respect lays a foundation upon which we can build mutual understanding. Without respect, people’s voices cannot be heard. When we work to respect one another, we can achieve tolerance and even acceptance of one another.”

I want to be clear that the type of respect I am referring to is the kind of respect that values each individual being, their right to life, and their sense of self worth. I am talking about respect for all people by all people.

In the wake of the horrific act in Las Vegas on Sunday night, televangelist Pat Robertson spoke about respect. He said, “we have disrespected authority. There is profound disrespect for our president… disrespect for the institutions of our government… All the way up and down the line, disrespect.” Here, Robertson is referring to an old-school style of respect that says ‘you should not question authority.’

First of all, let’s look at the fact that Pat Robertson is speculating about a horrific act being caused by a lack of respect and completely missed the point that the most basic type of respect we as human being can show one another is a respect for our right to exist. It is true that Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock perpetrated his hideous act because of disrespect, but it was his disrespect for people’s right to life. It was his disrespect for people’s worth and dignity. How Robertson could talk about respect and miss this point is surprising.

Next, I want to make a clear distinction between the type of respect Pat Robertson is talking about the the type of respect I am talking about. I do not mean a blind respect for authority. I mean respect for the sanctity of life. I mean respect for people’s dignity. I mean the type of respect that people in authority all too often deny to those they see as less than them. Respect for each and every person’s potential for good, for their right to prosperity, for their happiness.

Let’s all show each other respect. Let’s practice being respectful toward one another even when we disagree. Let’s take action in a respectful way to advance equality, justice, and peace.

Love to you all.

In the Wake of Vegas Tragedy, Reach Out with Love

Late last night there was another mass shooting in the United States. This time on the Las Vegas Strip. The Washington Post reports this morning that this is now “the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.” Over 50 are dead. More than 400 are injured. It’s tragic. It’s senseless. It needs to stop.

Often, in the wake of such tragedies, I want to know why it happened. What were the gunman’s motives? What would motivate such a heinous act? Over time, I have concluded that even when there is an explanation, there is never a justification. No motive could justify such a horrific act.

And when there is an explanation that sheds light on such a tragedy, at its root is always the same set of ingredients: anger, hatred, rage. Regardless of who acted and in what way to create such an event, whether the person acted alone or as part of a larger network of terror, the root cause is always anger, hatred, and rage.

So, then, we must combat these problems, and the best way to do that is to act out in love. We all must do what we can to honor and respect life, to empathize with and love one another, and to increase the amplitude of love, compassion, and kindness in our world.

There is only one true hope for humanity, and that is to work with all our might to come to a greater understanding about one another, to try harder to get along with each other, and be compassionate toward one another to such a degree that we could not possibly harm one another.

I said it on Friday in this blog and I will repeat it again today in the wake of this awful tragedy. We must act out with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. We must love one another.

So, this is my appeal to you, today. Do everything you can to fill this world with love. Pull your loved ones close. Reach out with kindness to a stranger. Help dissolve the anger that is fomenting in this world. Be the change you want to see in the world. We can make a difference. We will turn this tide. Love will win.