I've been thinking quite a lot lately about the way things are in this world, particularly here in the greatest country in said world. And it's my belief that the social issues we are having, especially the recent confrontations and killings along racial lines, boil down to one thing. We don't have the proper regard and respect for our fellow human being.
Respect is not just an Aretha Franklin "golden oldie". It's what one must have for another human being. It's what that other human must have for you. At all times...not just when it's convenient or personally beneficial. Otherwise, we live in a world that nobody wants or likes.
A high percentage of the humans one encounters on TV and radio, the internet, or in public, seem to demand and expect the respect of others, but then behave in a way unworthy of it. This observation isn't limited to any particular race, religion, profession, or region. It's prevalent wherever one looks. I'm not sure this is new in my lifetime, but it feels like it's worse than I ever remember. And I lived through the 60's! I'm suspecting the unfiltered, and sometimes hateful, opinion-sharing on social media might have something to do with it. It's rarely a place where you see someone write--"I see what you're saying, and I respect it. Let me do some thinking about your opinion and see if it changes mine." Instead, we're instantly connected to the hate-mongers and ca-ca disturbers who delight in using their devices and social platforms to screw up the world; or at least force their version of it on us.
In light of recent events, even if we believe we have proper respect for others, we must make the effort to have more. If the other person doesn't treat us in a respectful manner, we must give consideration to them, their opinion, their behavior, their LIVES, even more. (Turn the other cheek?) It's not easy, but necessary.
One of the courses I teach at Lindenwood University-Belleville features the writings of the late Dr. Stephen Covey and his best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit number one- Be Proactive- suggests that you have control of your life and have the choice in all situations to determine your own behavior. Dr. Covey states one should use that power to be response-able; meaning you have the ability to choose your response. One can choose happiness, sadness, anger, ambivalence, honesty, or dishonesty. On the other hand, reactive people blame their environment and outside influences and choose to believe those influences determine their behavior, or are reason to follow the crowd. When presented with a stimulus, they react as though they have no power over their behavior. But, in truth, we always have the power to determine our reaction and behavior, and the responsibility for the decision.
I dislike referring to religious tenets, but some form of the Golden Rule has been a basic concept germane to the peaceful existence of most civilized people since man started walking upright. Even the non-religious among us can surely appreciate the idea "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Or.."love your neighbor as yourself".
Today, disrespectful, or at least uncaring, behavior is everywhere. From small things like not saying "thank you" and not showing up for an appointment on time...to the larger things; and we're seeing those on the news every day. But, it seems if things are going to change for the better, it must start with each individual. We must first respect ourselves, and our lives...but then absolutely respect the other person at least an equal amount. In other words, be response-able.
We Baby Boomers made a lot of noise a few decades back about changing the world for the better with peace and love. I'd like to think that one of the Boomers who's running for President this year could make an effort to accomplish that mission. How about that for a campaign promise?
It starts with R-E-S-P-E-C-T...sing it with me.