Respect. The world would feel a lot nicer is we all really showed respect for each other these days. Masks or no masks, this guy for president, or that guy. Black lives matter, or all lives matter. How can we actually learn to respect each other? #respect #BIPOC #antiracism #love #community

Respect. The world would feel a lot nicer is we all really showed respect for each other these days. Masks or no masks, this guy for president, or that guy. Black lives matter, or all lives matter. How can we actually learn to respect each other?

This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday quick write hosted by Kate Moutang. Join us each Thursday night on Twitter (#FMFParty) for fun and fellowship, then grab a pen and start writing when the prompt goes live!

Respect. The world would feel a lot nicer is we all really showed respect for each other these days. Masks or no masks, this guy for president, or that guy. Black lives matter, or all lives matter. How can we actually learn to respect each other? #respect #BIPOC #antiracism #love #community

Do We Have to Earn Respect?

“If people don’t respect me, I ain’t gonna respect them!” one of my students almost shouted.

“Do you think that’s fair?” I asked the class. “To only respect people who show you respect?”

“Yeah. People have to earn my respect!” another student agreed.

“No,” another student said, “Our elders teach us that we should respect everyone because we all deserve respect.”

“What a wise thing to teach,” I agreed. “But does everyone follow that advice?”

“No,” one young man mumbled. “When I joined a gang on the reservation, I thought everyone would respect me.”

“What happened?” I asked. The other students quieted down to listen to the soft voice of their classmate.

“In order to join the gang, I had to lay on the ground so they could all pee on me.”

The bell for the next class rang into the stunned silence.

I could tell how much this admission had cost the young man, and worried about other students’ reactions. As they filed out of class, I realized I had nothing to worry about. Many of them offered kind words of commiseration.

Who Needs It?

We all need respect, but it’s an odd commodity. We can’t give it away unless we have it. And the more we have it, the easier it is to give it away. It looks a lot like unconditional love.

Respect is an odd commodity. We can't give it away unless we have it for ourselves, first. #respect #fmfparty Click To Tweet

In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus tells us to love others as we love ourselves. But we can’t love others if we don’t actually love ourselves. Likewise, if we don’t respect for ourselves, we have a hard time showing respect for others. And just like we would never think of demanding love, we shouldn’t demand respect.

When we accept ourselves (warts, wrinkles, and weirdness), we show respect for ourselves. Once we have our self-respect in place, we can make the leap to respecting others without conditions.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t find this easy. My alter-ego, Judgy McJudgerton wants to take over my feelings sometimes, and I have to pray hard to portray unconditional kind regard for someone who holds wildly differing views about things (especially controversial things).

Hacks for Showing Respect for People Who Aren’t Just Like You

1. Have Self-Respect. Treat yourself kindly and don’t bully yourself. Once you’ve made peace with yourself, it becomes easier to show respect for others.

Respect. The world would feel a lot nicer is we all really showed respect for each other these days. Masks or no masks, this guy for president, or that guy. Black lives matter, or all lives matter. How can we actually learn to respect each other? #respect #BIPOC #antiracism #love #community

2. Approach others with curiosity, not caution. Instead of assuming the worst of people, assume the best of them. People generally react to strangers in a reciprocal manner to how they perceive the other person feels about them. We give off vibes, and other people can feel them.

3. Try to imagine that each person you see is someone you love. If you’re a Christian, you might imagine Jesus walking towards you. How would you react? With a smile or a frown? Would you look at your phone, or look him in the eyes?

4. Acknowledge the other person’s humanity. Smile. Greet them with a cheerful good morning.

5. Make your interactions more about the other person. How do you think they might feel? Do whatever you can to make them feel comfortable and welcome.

Some of these take a lot of practice to actually implement, but start somewhere! The more respect we show for each other, the nicer our world will be.

12 Comments

  1. T me, there’s a mile of diference between love and respect; coming across a wounded Hezbollah dude, I had to treat him with Christian love, but no way I was going to respect his POV.

    My love for you need not be earned;
    I’m a Christian man, that’s given,
    but as no doubt you’ve learned,
    you get respect by livin’
    square to values that I hold,
    and held by others, too;
    if doubtful, ask, and you’ll be told
    just what you must do
    in terms of justice and fair play,
    in terms of honest dealings,
    and you’re not allowed to say
    that this hurts your feelings,
    ’cause if you want our common name,
    you have to want to play our game.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Please Tell Me How This EndsMy Profile

  2. Such wise words Anita, thank you.
    I’ve struggled with a family member who holds such racist views (but thinks he isn’t). But I am learning to look behind the words and see the fear and anxiety, and the lack of education, that lie behind.
    It can be so hard to to respect a person but not necessarily their words and actions. But compassion can go a long way.
    Thank you for some great practical advice how to do it.

  3. Oh this is so good, Anita! Great applicable “hacks”! When I saw the word this week was respect, I looked forward to what you would share. Always a good read!

  4. I particularly am drawn to try #2: Approach others with curiosity, not caution. I agree that people can sense when we’re cautious around them, which can make them feel odd at least, and judged at worst. But most people are open to others being curious about them; it gives them a chance to talk about themselves and we get a chance to learn more. Great post.

  5. like Lisa…. I like point 2 the approaching with curiousity. It means often taking a moment to rephrase a question and the point out the intent of the question. But taking moments is a good thing to do when dealing with folks who think differently anyways. 🙂
    Annette recently posted…Respect Isn’t The Easiest ThingMy Profile

  6. Out of the mouths of babes! Students can teach us more than we teach them can’t they! I tend to be timid when meeting someone new and these hacks are things that feel doable to me. Thank you for sharing your wisdom once again. The world (and I) need your words!

  7. So good! I especially love your tips at the end. I’ve never considered approaching the issue of respecting others from the position of respecting myself first. I’ll be thinking on this one for awhile!

  8. THis is really interesting. I enjoyed reading it all,and the responses. It’s hard to be vulnerable to really looking at yourself in such a way that you have to figure out whether you respect yourself or not.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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