With All Due Respect – Introduction

My name is Moriah Freeman.  I’m a retired executive assistant who worked at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA for 25 years.  Since my retirement nearly a year ago, I have spent much time reflecting on my career, my life and responsibilities outside of work, my relationships, the American society in which I live, and my beliefs about what is true, good, loving and just.

In all my reflections, the theme of “respect” has come up repeatedly.  I have decided to start a blog as a way of sharing some of my thoughts about respect and of inviting conversation about this topic.   I think respect is key and integral to life in community – and we all live in at least one community, our families.  Many of us live in several.

I will describe some of the situations in which I have experienced both respect and disrespect and some in which I have observed respectful and disrespectful actions and attitudes toward others.  I’d like, also, to share my reflections on how I believe disrespect has arisen in that situation and how respect might be expressed – what it might look like.

I acknowledge that my perspective is limited by a number of factors: my race, age, economic status, family and social background, education, life experience and belief system.  That’s why I hope to encourage a conversation about respect.  I’m very interested in your perspectives.

I’d like to establish several guidelines for participation in this conversation:

  1. No obscenities, swearing or disrespectful language.
  2. Contributions should be limited to 500 words per entry.
  3. Briefly describe your background when submitting a contribution.
  4. Write about your perspective, and refrain from criticizing that of another contributor.

I will request that you edit posts that do not meet these guidelines. If you do not do so, I will delete the post.

Some of the topics I hope to introduce include the following:

  • What being respected does for a person
  • Learning to walk in another’s shoes, or at least to watch the other walk
  • Respect for the aging and elderly
  • Respect for homeless persons and understanding the “system” of housing the poor
  • When just one person cares and respects
  • Respect for the religious beliefs of others
  • Respect for those who serve and, in particular, those who serve us
  • Respect for animals
  • Respect for the earth
  • Respect in the long run – long-term relationships
  • Respectful endings

Most of the incidents I will describe and discuss are true and involve real people.  In each case I will ask the person or persons involved before writing about them.  In some cases I will involve them in writing the post; most often I will not use their real names.

This is not a “political blog,” but in present-day American society, it would be silly to imagine that political opinions will not enter into our discussion.  My hope is that, as we write, we will try to explain clearly our points of view and how they have arisen and been formulated, and that we will not resort to vilifying those who disagree with us.

I want to thank one of the most respectful people I know, Professor Harry Lewis, of Harvard University, for suggesting the title of this blog. I served as executive assistant to Professor Lewis for six months while he was interim dean of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.  

I believe the ideas we will share with each other have great value.  Let us be gentle with one another.