Monday, October 3, 2011

Respect Matters

This is not the first time in my life I’ve been struck with the realization that respect is all but dead in our society. Maybe in the whole world. And it could be the death of us.

But just because I understand that respect is floating belly-up in the cesspool into which our world is turning, doesn’t mean I have had any success resuscitating it in my own life. Somewhere along the line, I adopted the conviction that respect is not unconditional. Respect is not freely given; it has to be earned. Right? So it’s no wonder I’ve lost respect for…everything…and can’t find it anywhere. Since disrespect has become de rigueur, and no one seems to have any respect for anyone or anything, what’s out there that could possibly earn my respect? In the end, I’ve followed the whole world over the cliff and into the cesspool.

It has dawned on me that I have to get over doling out the gift of my reverence only to those things/people/situations I have judged worthy. Spider has taught me to respect other forms of life that I might find ugly, frightening or even negligible. It’s a good place to start, small enough for me to get my arms around the concept. And then I have to take that and apply it to people, property, rituals, traditions, religions, opinions, ethnicities, nations, tribes, disciplines, the Earth itself. Anything under the sun that I might judge unworthy, and therefore disrespect—most of the time, without even knowing enough about it to make that judgment.

Lately, I’ve become acutely aware of exactly how little respect I have for others. When I curse at another driver on the freeway, or sigh and roll my eyes at the woman who parks her shopping cart in the exact geometric center of the aisle at the grocery store, I am struck by how these small acts of disrespect spring forth from and contribute back to the growing mass of contempt upon which we are choking now. If one person, just one, refuses to add her fistful of muck to that mass, we might get at least one moment of relief. It would be so worth being that person. And I really feel that is what the Almighty is asking of me right now.

Let there be Respect on Earth. And let it begin with me.


  1. Timely, wonderful, and....what a mirror you hold up for the rest of us.

  2. Wonderful post, and this might sound like I'm disagreeing with you, but that's not the way it's intended. I read a long time ago that respect does have to be earned, but courtesy should be freely given. There is a lot that I simply cannot respect, but I don't have to show that. I can still offer courtesy, even when it comes at the personal cost of some emotional chagrin. And, if I look, with eyes of grace instead of judgment, I can often find something to respect where I thought I couldn't. Striking this balance presents challenges I'm still working on. Hope this makes sense.