Respect: We must give to receive

Aretha Franklin got it right in 1967. She just wanted a little respect from her man.

Franklin wanted to be esteemed, admired, honored. Here’s the lyrics to her song, and a YouTube video of it:

Is R-E-S-P-E-C-T such a bad thing? Is it wrong to demand it?

In today’s America, it appears the answer is yes. I see very little respect any more, anywhere.

A few examples:


Presidential candidate Donald Trump said this week he wants the United States to ban all Muslims from entering the country, in the wake of the attack last week in San Bernardino, Calif., by a “radicalized” Muslim couple who killed 14 people and wounded nearly two dozen others.

Seriously, Mr. Trump? Since when do American citizens blame an entire religious community for the actions of a few? “The free exercise of religion” is one of the principles the U.S. was founded on, and it’s included in the First Amendment. The Constitution doesn’t say “free exercise of Christianity;” it says “religion.” Look it up. (Muslims aren’t the first religious people to kill in the name of their god, either. You can look that up too.)

But Trump can make such an outlandish statement – and get away with it – because we live in a culture that respects no one.

Happy holidays/Merry Christmas

This is a minor issue. Why do “Christians” berate those who say Happy Holidays? Most people in this country are not “Christian,” even if most Americans do celebrate Christmas.

Lighten up. This one isn’t worth the fight. It does more harm than good.

Obama and the presidency

Barack Obama
The Seal of the President of the United States. (The Associated Press)

Here’s a big one. I see vicious comments nearly every day about President Obama. I also see, occasionally, vicious comments about previous presidents, especially George Bush (both of them, but especially the younger Bush).

We are so caught up in politics and policies, we have forgotten what the presidency stands for.

The President of the United States is possibly the most powerful person in the world. In our hatred for the office-holder, we have dis-respected the office itself.

Whether I voted for President Obama or not is irrelevant now. He is my president. Period. I don’t have to agree with everything he stands for; indeed, I do not. But I respect the office he holds. There are ways to oppose his policies. Legally and respectfully.

Not all of his policies are evil, by the way. Obama is a human being, just like you and I are. The nature of the office requires him to have a thick skin. He is not the devil. He is not our savior. No president is.

Let’s respect the office. With that attitude in place, we might actually discover we aren’t as different ideologically as we think we are.

Teachers/public education

One of my sons entered college planning to be a high school teacher. When he discovered all the micro-managing that teachers must deal with now, he changed course. I wonder how many other qualified teachers are leaving – or not entering – the profession because they literally are not allowed to teach. Their passion is being snuffed out of them.

How can students and their parents respect teachers when significant class time is taken up by standardized tests? Setting year-by-year standards for education is fine, but how can special education students be expected to keep up in a regular classroom? If a student is better at fixing things or making things than understanding a textbook, what’s wrong with vocational school?

Children are different. They don’t all learn exactly the same way.

News flash: Adults are different too. Different does not make me better than you. We are just different. That’s all. We can respect each other’s differences. And the differences in our children.

Sports referees

Walt Anderson
Referee Walt Anderson (66) reviews a challenged call in the second half of an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 29 in Seattle. (The Associated Press)

“The ruling on the field is a completed catch. The ruling is under further review.”

Football is the worst. Basketball is getting there. And baseball is headed in that direction too.

Like teachers, referees and umpires are no longer allowed to do their jobs. Every decision they make is second-guessed.

In my opinion, they have no incentive to get the call right – because if it’s even remotely controversial, it will be reviewed by someone not even in the stadium.

No respect for authority

Since we no longer respect religions other than our own, the office of the President, teachers or referees, why should we be surprised when Donald Trump rejects an entire culture?

Any authority figure who makes a controversial decision gets criticized, or worse. I’m convinced that the best presidential candidates never even try to run for office because they know it’s a no-win situation.

Why would anyone want to become a teacher today? Why would anyone want to become a football or basketball referee? What incentive do they have to do their jobs well? What praise do they get?

Who respects them?

What does this teach our children? Where is our society headed?


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