Display until March 24, 2015
The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®
By Ron Ross
Aretha Franklin sings about it, Rodney Dangerfield complained he didn’t get any at all, and the rest of us would appreciate a little more of that curious thing called respect. This Life-Lifting word, respect, comes from a variety of sources.
Respect is born of awe. On the human level, we often stand in awe of people of great achievement. Every baseball player stands in awe of Babe Ruth, business executives respect Bill Gates, and nearly everyone had profound esteem for Mother Theresa.
On a higher level, in every society on every continent for at least 7,000 years, humans have demonstrated respect for a power higher and greater than themselves. Christians respect Jesus, Jews respect Jehovah, Muslims respect Allah, etc.
Respect is born of expertise. As kids, we respected the teacher who clarified the confusing, the coach who taught us to bat or shoot, run or dribble, and the parent who disciplined us with justice and mercy. As adults, we respect the plumber who clears the sewer line, the chef who prepares a great meal, the surgeon who operates with skill, and all who work to make this world a better place to live.
Respect is born of institution. We respect some people not because of who they are personally but because of the position they hold in society. Every member of an African tribe respects their chief even though he may be a vile man. In our society, we respect people wearing badges (police officers) or robes (judges and clergy) or rank (military). We respect people of position such as the owner of the company we work for, or people of authority such as the foreman of our work-group. However, just because we respect the institution an individual represents does not mean we respect the individual who holds the position.
Respect is born of fear. Shopkeepers located in certain parts of some cities respect the gangs that run the streets, not because of earned esteem, but because of fear. Most US citizens pay their taxes willingly, but a few pay them because they dread the power of the IRS. In certain parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan local citizens respect the Taliban only because they fear the terror they are ready, willing, and able to perpetrate at any moment.
Respect is born of equality. There is a measure of respect that each person on earth owes to the other because all are members of the human race. The respect born of equality is one that each must have for the other and cannot be a one-way street. If I have no regard for your life, limb or property, I have abdicated my expectation to be respected by you or any other member of society. Another way to put it is, I can’t kill my parents, then appeal to the judge and jury for mercy because I am an orphan.
Ultimately, respect is born of character. Knowledge, position, fame, and skills may cause someone to admire you, even control you to some degree. In the end, it is your character that births respect, the R-E-S-P-E-C-T Aretha sings about, Rodney longed for, and you and I desire.
©2014 Ronald D. Rosss
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