a writing by Nancy Ellen Crossland


A seven letter word defined: to hold in esteem or honor. To show regard or consideration for. To respect the rights of others.

Respect really doesn't warrant a lengthy description. It is probably one of the most known actions in the world. Yet, why is it so overlooked, ignored and blatantly misused?

We are taught from an early age to show respect for others; parents, relatives, siblings, the elderly as well as private property. As a product of a parochial school education, respect was paramount in daily activities. With a "click" of a wooden spindle shaped device we were on our feet; standing at attention in respect for our monsignor. It would have been unthinkable not to have responded to that "click". In the same token, any disruption to the classroom caused by talking out of turn or speaking in a tone that even suggested disrespect was dealt with an immediate action with sometimes the consequence of being sent to the mother superior's office. This would further be compounded with a note sent home and possibly a phone call to the shocked parents for their child's behavior.

Respect is not only a part of life, it is necessary for survival. In every part of the world there is an understood commitment of who should be respected and why. The elders of a village in a remote vicinity are held in great esteem by the community. Their decisions and wisdom are highly sought in times of dispute among the inhabitants. Respect provides a semblance of order and without it, man cannot function.

We have all experienced with great dismay, those very unpleasant instances of witnessing a lack of respect. A parent/child conflict while shopping, an irate driver zooming into a parking space that we had waited patiently for to open. Obnoxious behavior, bullying, racial slurs, unwarranted criticizing,all have touched us in some way.

How then, can we promote respect? The best example is ourselves. For if we all give a little at times, it amounts to so much in extending the respect that every human being is entitled to. Perhaps we may not agree with a particular political philosophy, form of government, or ideals, yet we are all equal in voicing our opinion and displaying our beliefs with a sense of showing respect.

So simply said, yet perhaps so difficult for many to practice: "Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself."

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