To disrespect someone literally means to violate them. It means to interfere with the normal, healthy and positive growth or actions of a person. While reflecting upon this topic a question came to mind: What would make a person want to violate or interfere with another’s development, either in the form of speech or action? What would move a person to harm another? I thought I would seek out two people I know that disrespect each other on a day to day basis, and ask them for their input. The two people are my children.
From time to time my daughter can be found watching The Discovery Channel. And from time to time my son can be found turning away from that channel while she’s watching it. I asked my son why he would turn the TV channel to a station other than the one his sister was watching first. He said simply “because I want to watch something else.” I said, “But you know your sister was watching the other channel first.” He began to explain that on another occasion, she had done the same to him and that he was doing it back to her. I asked my daughter if that was true and she went on to tell me that what he was watching at the time was just a cartoon, where she wanted to watch something educational, like the Discovery Channel. My son of course had a rebuttal, but what stood out is that each wanted something that they thought was more important. That what they wanted JUSTIFIED their interfering with what the other was doing. They placed a higher value on what they wanted.
I watch international news channels and see that same type of behavior displayed by adults who govern whole nations. Israeli lives are more valuable than Palestinian lives, therefore tear down their houses and take their land. White lives are more valuable than Black lives, therefore give them a subpar living experience through mis-education and gentrification. The list goes on. So is there any wonder that if the so-called leaders and the “civilized” of humanity would blatantly disrespect each other that individuals with less civilization would do the same?
In America our music is filled with disrespectful words laced over sweet melodic beats and proliferated to our youth for a profit. Our TV station are packed with filth and disrespectful storylines acted out by overpaid actors to the delight of eager souls searching to find answers to life’s problems. Disrespect in today’s world is the Order of the day.
So what is one to do in such an environment? First, each person that suffers the abuse of disrespect has to accept that what they are experiencing is not GOOD FOR THEM. They then have to make a commitment to address that disrespect at every opportunity. Not with negative retaliation but through deliberate, calmly thought out speech and action. The one disrespecting you may not even be aware that they are. If you respond out of a mindset of revenge then you may end up “disrespecting” them and in that process creating a never ending loop of disrespect that will proliferate to others.
I expect Children to disrespect each other, until being taught better. But as an adult there comes a time when we must all do away with childish things. I move that each adult take responsibility for how we respond to disrespect. Not by ignoring it but by engaging it to a positive end. If we do, we will proliferate respect exponentially and wipe the earth clean of this unnecessary plague.