It’s About Respect, Mr. President

I’ve spent the past week reflecting upon President Trump’s having referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations at “shithole countries.” This is the latest in a growing history this President has of racist remarks going back notably to when he announced his bid for the presidency and referred to immigrants from Mexico as criminals and “rapists.” I’ll admit that I am often shocked by such statements.

President Trump has repeatedly stated that he is not a racist, even though his own comments and actions seem to contradict him. And here’s the thing about that, I believe the President is sincere in his assertions. I believe that he does not think he is a racist.

I grew up in a mostly-white mostly-middle class rural area of the United States and encountered various people who most people would probably call racists. Yet, to a person, these people did not think of themselves as racists. I believe this is because racism actually exists on a spectrum that includes things that aren’t racism.

I’ll explain. People who hold views the rest of us describe as racist see the world through the spectrum of social hierarchy. I am willing to bet that you could poll people who have racist views about things completely separate from racism and be able to identify those people with racists viewpoints very accurately. Chances are that the people who have racist views also would say that people who drive nice cars rank higher on the social scale than those who drive less-nice cars. Taller people rank higher than shorter people. The physically able rank higher than people with disabilities. The color of a person’s skin is just one factor among many that these people use to rank and categorize others.

Such is the case with President Trump. He doesn’t think he’s a racist, because he judges people based upon the color of their skin no more than he judges them based upon everything else about them. And he judges everyone based upon everything about them.

This brings me to the title of my post: It’s about respect.

We all need to work to view and behave toward one another with an equal amount of respect. The fact of the matter is that human beings are all basically the same. We all desire the same basic necessities of life. Our President doesn’t have a problem with race (or at least not just with race), he has a problem with disrespecting people he sees as beneath himself in the social hierarchy. And as a wealthy white male, he sees just about everyone as being beneath him.

So, Mr. President, I’m calling upon you to respect your fellow human beings. We are all the same. Please work to treat everyone with respect and in time you might find that people will stop accusing you of racism. It’s never too late to change. Together, we can build a better tomorrow.

Respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness: These are the the things the world needs more of.

Imagine All the People Living Life in Peace

In John Lennon’s famous song “Imagine” there is the line, “Imagine all the people living life in peace.” That line used to make my heart ache, because it seemed so far off, so impossible. This past September, however, I proposed a new philosophy – one based upon mutual acceptance and understanding. It is comprised of four key components. They are respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness, or RECK for short. Since that time, Lennon’s classic line has taken on a new sense of hopefulness for me.

Now, each time I hear, think, or sing that line my mind opens to the possibilities of what RECK could do if I were able to spread my message and have others embrace the philosophy. It’s corny, I know, but I am hopeful. It fills me with joy, excitement, and anticipation in a way that nothing has for a very long time. And I don’t say these words lightly. After all, I have spent that past 12 ½ years trying to make the world a more compassionate place through my nonprofit Century of Compassion. And I spent several years as a student of compassion before that.

Over those years, both through Century of Compassion and before, I dreamt of a more compassionate and caring world. However, I often sensed that Compassion alone wasn’t going to be enough to get us there. There needed to be more. Many times, I would find myself telling people that they must also have respect for others and must first feel empathy before they could achieve compassion. Even the Dalai Lama himself preaches a doctrine of loving-kindness beyond mere compassion.

I spent most of 2017 feeling that Century of Compassion just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. I felt a substantial urge to both expand and hone my philosophy to include these elements I so often called upon in addition to compassion. It was from this contemplation that RECK was forged.

One happy accident with RECK is that reck is a word unto itself. It already existed. Its definition is “to have care, concern, or regard.” It’s the base word for words like reckon and reckless. I delight in the fact that my word that stands for “respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness” also means “to have care, concern, or regard.”

Through RECK we can put an end to much of the world’s plight once and for all. We will be able to encourage people to talk out their problems and work out their differences. If everyone treated one another with RECK, there would finally be no more war, murder, or genocide, because you can’t harm someone you respect, have empathy and compassion for, and treat with kindness.

True peace and lasting peace is possible. Each of us can make a difference. We really can change the world.

So, let’s have RECK for one another, everyone! And all the people can be living life in peace.