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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Where is the R-E-S-P-E-C-T ?

Our conversations of late have been filled with discussions about what is wrong with our society. I would argue that it is simply lack of respect. We do not respect ourselves. We then lack respect for others, and that leads to a lack of respect for the planet, the belongings of others whether personal or business, and just about anything else.

We wonder how to disagree without being disagreeable. By being respectful. If you respect that the other person has the right to have an opinion, a right to feel the way they do the same way that you feel the way that you do, then you can have a discussion, disagree on the issue and not wind up calling each other vile names and shouting at each other.

When we respect each other we don't vandalize others' property. We don't litter, pollute, destroy, and pillage the earth and its resources. When we respect each other we don't vilify others who are just tryiing to do their jobs. We don't blame certain groups of people for things that individuals do. We don't criticize others for our own faults.

Respect is something that is learned from a very early age. Respect has to be taught to children. We have not been doing this for a long time. Respect doesn't mean unquestioning subservience. What it means is that you admit that other people have a right to exist. And that they might have an idea or two that are valueable, just as you yourself do. You also must admit that 99.99% of people are working to try to make things better - they just differ with you about they way in which to do that.

We need to begin to teach our children again to respect others. This starts very young. Instead of sending children to school with the message "don't let that teacher tell you anything or I'll give them the what-for", and making teachers afraid to enforce absolutely any kind of discipline, we should teach our children that these adults (and all adults) should be respected. They are adults - and children don't know everything. Children are to learn from them.

Now this is not to say that all adults are perfect and that they should never be questioned. There is a right way and a wrong way to do that as well. But questioning can be done in a respectful way as well. And if we begin to have a respectful culture - adults can be respectful of childrens' questions as well.

Children should also be taught respect for others' things. This includes close family members, the neighbors, and people who you don't know. The lesson is that of the golden rule - someone else did something to acquire that item - and if you destroy or damage it, it will hurt them. How would you feel if someone did that to you? This can then logically extend to care for all things - including the environment. It is just as easy not to throw litter on the ground as it is to hire someone else to pick it up later. It is easier not to pollute the water than to try to clean it up later. It is easier not to pollute the air than to try to fix the mess later on.

Most indigenous people have lived in harmony with their surroundings for hundreds of years. They managed to take only what they needed, being careful not to over-use, and by so doing, had plenty of resources. So-called Western Civilization on the other hand has a history of constantly acquiring vast amounts of resources for no other reason than hoarding vast amounts of it and bragging to each other about it. We have stripped the land of timber and minerals, overharvested fish and wildlife, driven other species to extinction, destroyed whole ecosystems, polluted the water we drink and the air we breathe, and are now on a course to possibly destroy the livability of the entire planet. For what? Not for our needs - for our wants. This displays a complete and total lack of respect for not only the planet but for every person who does not live the way we do, who does not have the lifestyle we have, or who does not even grasp after the lifestyle we want.

So the next time someone wonders what is wrong, let us remember the wonderful song by Aretha Franklin, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, because that is really what this country needs right now. Lots and lots of it.


dig this chick said...


Being Green in Florida said...

Well said. Now I will have that song stuck in my head all day. :)