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Whenever I use the word respect, I hear Aretha Franklin singing: “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect…”
Because I’ve been drawn to performance of one kind or another since I was young, I’ve often been asked if my goal is wealth and fame. My answer hasn’t changed. Sure, I’d like to be well paid enough that I could finance annual vacations, but rather than fame, I seek respect. I understand not everyone who reads my novels or my blog will be dumbstruck with awe, but I would be delighted if every reader felt respect for me and my work—enough admiration to inspire him/her to treat me with courtesy.
Actually, I think we owe one another respect, regardless of achievement. We owe one another civility, even if we disagree. Why? Because each of us is as fallibly human as the next.
Spiritual people would say each of us is struggling to grow into higher vibration or greater awareness. Some persons demonstrate more sensitivity and comprehension than others, but they have to begin where they are. Geneticists would explain we share DNA; we’re family. Anyone who assumes his superiority over others of different genders, races, or nationalities, etc., is revealing his lack of understanding of reality—his ignorance. And while we may understand bigotry, we can no longer settle in to live with it if we want to avoid devolving beneath the animal kingdom. As in the law, ignorance is not a defense.
What does respect look like? First, it forbids assault—verbal or physical. Mom taught me to use polite language in public out of respect for others and myself, so I reserve my swearing for private circumstances. I require men in my company to refrain from using the ugly slang invented for women. In turn, I avoid using cruel labels for people. I expect equal pay, fair treatment, and courtesy—for others and myself. I’m capable enough I don’t want or need to use self-debasing shortcuts to achieve. If the situation demands I compromise myself, I walk away. I’m not for sale.
As humans, we earn respect by respecting ourselves, and by standing up against those who would bully us or the vulnerable. I’ve been fortunate to have other women and men standing with me often enough in the past to give me courage.
I like the #TimesUp movement, because it includes everyone who has been the object of vicious behavior—racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. All humans should be better than that after centuries of struggling civilization. We should know by now skin color doesn’t dictate character any more than gender dictates competence. A fat bank account isn’t the same as value to humankind. The inappropriate remarks of the American President and others in positions of power notwithstanding, we owe it to ourselves to insist on treating others and ourselves with respect.
The time for “spin” to make hurtful words and actions seem acceptable is over. Respect is nourished by honesty and trustworthiness. Facts have no alternatives. The time to celebrate and create the wonder that we can be is here. We’ve allowed ourselves to be led into what our President calls a “sh**hole.” We’ve reached the bottom; the way from here is up.