Remember the Otis Redding/Aretha Franklin song? Remember Rodney Dangerfield? Like the song and the actor, respect can engender pathos and comedy. But respect for others has the potential to solve a lot of ‘human condition’ problems.
Giving (and getting) respect allows folks to hold onto their dignity. It’s a precursor to empathy. It creates a barrier against all the inhumane things people do to other people.
Last week, I did something again that I early-on promised to never do. I responded to a post from one of my Face Book friends who asked the simple question: what do you want? I replied that I wanted people to learn to treat other people with respect. And inevitably, someone added a comment, saying that as long as single moms received subsidies, children wouldn’t learn respect.
For starters, I believe that sweeping generalizations – statements that characterize all members of a certain group – lack respect. Respect, like trust, is about individuals. Respect means that people can see the individual as potentially different from the group they belong to. Stereotypes occur all along the slippery slope of contempt.
And why single moms? Last time I looked, about 25 percent of the children in this country are being raised in single parent families. And how does receiving a subsidy reduce the possibility of learning respect for others?
In the nicest way possible and with respect, I tried to argue.
Nope. He wasn’t having any.
Back in the late 1980’s, John Lee published a book called “The Flying Boy.” My take-away from that book was the impossibility of having an intimate relationship without mutual respect. Minus respect, love turns to dislike or hate and then, finally, indifference. Like the song says: “Respect [me] When you come home, Or you might walk in, And find out I’m gone.”
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life? Escape the field. Walk away. Avoid pointless conflict.
So with respect, maybe my 2016 New Year’s Resolution needs to be: Avoid making possibly contentious comments on Face Book. And it looks like even the most vanilla comment will elicit a ‘nay’ from someone out there. Maybe I’ll give up Face Book for Lent…