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.
One thought on “Let’s Talk About Respect”
I work with an all-volunteer homeless services provider in Northeast LA, where I live. The founder of this group is a psychiatric social worker on Skid Row, a large woman who isn’t especially fussy about her clothing. At first glance, she might occasionally be mistaken for her clients. She addresses everyone the same way — with respect and intentionality. Even when she is delivering hard news, or enforcing a rule, she is careful to do so as privately as possible, in a calm but firm voice, and as much as possible she offers an alternative, or an opportunity for a second chance when appropriate. It’s a rare gift to be able to demonstrate real respect in that way.