The Anatomy of Respect

The previous two posts have illustrated what I believe is integral to respect.  The giver of respect must truly listen to or see the perspective and experience of the other and make an honest effort to understand that perspective.  The receiver of respect comes away with a sense of having been heard, understood and accepted.  Agreement is not necessarily part of this experience, though it often occurs.

This is not, as they say, “rocket science”.  I’m not stating anything here that hasn’t been taught, expounded, written, preached and sung countless times by more articulate and wiser voices than mine.  But because the examples I’ve given are so ordinary, so prosaic, so simple, I hope they might awaken in you some memories about times and places in which you have been moved to offer, or blessed to receive, signs of respect as well. I believe we could enrich one another’s comprehension of respect by sharing some of those incidents with each other.  Thereby, we might understand that respecting one another, at this time in our history and this place in our world, is not some Herculean task that demands a great leader, prophet or seer, to show us the way, but the stuff of our everyday lives, nearer to us than our own shadows, perhaps.

The other side of the coin of respect is fear.  Perhaps that will seem like too strong a word to describe feelings that often are labeled or expressed as dismissal, discomfort, embarrassment or indifference.  But I have always found that fear comes into the equation in some way for me.  Do I feel safe or unsafe in some very subtle way?  Am I afraid that I will be even slightly diminished?

With the above reflections in mind, I invite you to post some descriptions of your own experiences with respect/disrespect and the conclusions you have drawn from them.  Please keep in mind the guidelines I established in the introduction.  Please also feel free to comment on anything I have written.  I look forward to reading what you will bring to this conversation.