Respect: Lost Under The Blanket of Disagreement

respectA year or so ago, I wrote an article for my Safe At Home blog about how respect in our country is almost gone. I urged parents to make a concerted, even passionate attempt to keep teaching and modeling respect for others to their children, especially those with whom they disagree. Here’s a link to that post if you want to read it:

Just because we don’t see eye to eye with politicians, business leaders, neighbors or even family is no reason to then trash their character, personality or view in public or private. When we lose genuine expressions of respect, we lose a vital part of our culture’s fabric, vibrancy and strength.

One year later I can easily say that respect for others has dropped to new lows. Late night television and awards shows have substituted people bashing (generally of conservatives but not entirely) and preaching about social views for the entertainment the public looks to them for year after year.

Our State of the Union address this past January saw one entire party (minus one brave senator) sit on their hands during the speech by the President. There was not one moment of applause from them even for comments and initiatives that would totally support their agenda. And yet during a previous administration’s speech one representative from the other side offered an inappropriate in my opinion outburst during the presentation.

The firestorm of negativity from the press and the sitting-on-their-hands this year group burned hot for weeks. Respect? I don’t think so.

And of course the lack of respect is not limited to politics or media. We see it from sports stars, through protests about the military to school demonstrations.

In fact, we now observe what I would call one-way disrespect. I can make fun of you for your views but you dare not make fun of mine.  We protest today largely over one side of an issue’s story, but not the other.

Some protest (and show disrespect) against police who have killed their loved ones. and they have a right and purpose to do so.  But they don’t protest against their own who kill far more within their city!

You see R-E-S-P-E-C-T must go both ways. We can respect each other and our views without trashing each other. Someone is not necessarily a bad person because they don’t agree with us.

Our leaders can still be shown respect when we don’t see eye to eye on their politics or business practices. When’s the last time you heard anyone in public say,“I do disagree with Senator Jones views on this but I respect her, her leadership and her right to have that view.”

Are we teaching our kids to feel and act the same way? Looking at our recent school events and responses I would say probably not. But that can change if each of us will do our part to keep respect a part of the dialogue and disagreements that we enter into this year.

Perhaps unity could come from modeling it rather than demanding it. We’ll see.