RESPECT noun \ri-'spekt\
:a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, ect., and should be treated in an appropriate way
This one word seems to be one that I end up giving an impromptu lesson about to the various classes I substitute taught for in these past two months. While painting this morning, I found myself replaying the scenarios that probed me to give a little lesson on respect and I wondered why that word is one I harp on so much. I came up with two reasons.
1. Respect is something that I truly value
2. Respect is minimal in our society
Why is it that I constantly feel the need to teach this idea to kindergartners, first, and second graders? I honestly believe it's because no one cares about respecting anything anymore. In the past, I've heard many adults and rebellious teenagers claim "I don't give respect unless someone proves they deserve it." Fabulous. That statement makes me want to rip my hair out. That statement also proves that those people don't understand what respect is or why it's necessary to make the world a decent place to live in. Those people are probably producing children that are causing teachers, such as myself, to give impromptu lessons about respect on the daily.
Let's think about the above statement a moment longer. "Unless someone proves they deserve it." How exactly do you prove that you deserve respect? If I were to dumb myself down to such logic, I would guess you could prove it by being a good citizen. All religious beliefs and values aside I'd say that is what it would have to boil down to... doing your civic duty. I'm not sure how else you could be considered a "good person" in this world. The funny thing is.. respect is one of the characteristics of being a good citizen. So in my understanding, the people who are too good to give respect until it is deserved are the same people who are demanding people to respect in order to be respected!
You can't ask other people to give respect when you are above giving it. If that's the way you think respect works then you have a lot to learn. It seems to me that people get "sucking up" and respect confused. You shouldn't respect someone just because they think you are the most incredible person in the world. You should respect someone simply because it is the right thing to do. No one has been born "better" than anyone else. People don't get that though. We put the wrong kind of things on pedestals. Beauty, wealth, fame, and power are not the things that deserve respect.
If you want to get really deep about who deserves respect.. no one does. We're all lousy humans. We are but a spec in this universe and I don't care what you have accomplished.. you are truly worthy of nothing. You've made mistakes, you've done things that are wrong. Not one person in this world is without fault. We are born sinners and therefore we are worthy of absolutely nothing. But in order for the world to be a semi decent place to live in during this lifetime.. we need to have an abundance of respect for each other and for the things we have been given. If we only gave respect to the people who truly deserve it we'd all be treated like crap. I don't know about you but I'd much rather be treated in an appropriate way everywhere I went rather than the way I really deserve to be.
Think about one day in your life. If one person treats you in a less than appropriate way, doesn't it mess up your whole day? What about when someone goes out of their way to treat you in a proper manner, doesn't it make yours? Wouldn't you then be more inclined to go make someone else's? Everything has a chain reaction. That is what I want the students I encounter to understand. I get that people get burned and they want everyone else to suffer for it.. but you hold a lot more power in your hands when you choose to treat people the right way.
I may not agree with everyone's choices in life, but I still respect everyone as a human being. I'm still going to treat people in an appropriate manner regardless of what they may think or believe. And that's what drives me absolutely insane about "equality" and "no h8." Just because you don't agree with someone does not mean you hate them and just because your beliefs are different doesn't mean you can't respect them. Respect goes both ways though, and treating me badly or calling me names because I'm a Christian makes your behavior a heck of a lot worse than me simply not agreeing with what some might believe. The idea is so elementary that it astounds me when adults can not comprehend it.
Back to my kiddos. When I start a tangent about respect in the classroom it's usually because someone called another child a name or because students threw trash, pencils, and glue everywhere without caring who is going to have to pick it up. I usually begin by giving my best "teacher face" and saying "Boys and Girls," in a very serious teacher voice. I then say, "there is a very important word called respect. Does anyone know what that means?" I rarely get an answer and when I do it's way off point. I then describe what it means and how every single person should respect every person, regardless of who they are, every place, regardless of where it is, and every thing, regardless of who's it is. I finish up by asking what respect is. The last little girl I had answer said "being nice to nouns." And guess what? They all get it. It clicks for them.. because it just makes sense!
So it's that simple ladies and gentleman. Be nice to nouns and the world just might be a little brighter.
You'll never know until you give it a try.
*Disclaimer - I do not have respect for those who purposefully take human life, abuse women and children in any way, or practice animal cruelty. People deserve respect. Monsters deserve what God will give them when their time on earth is done.