I want to say something about respect. I hear often that “everyone is deserving of respect,” and I don’t think that’s true. On one level of course this is true—every person on the planet deserves the same level of respect as a human being as anybody else. This is an issue of ethics, of morality. Everyone begins life due the same number of let’s call them “respect points.” But the thing is, you can lose respect points. This is what many seem not to understand. Here are a couple examples.
Let’s start with the adults, those who are more mature and perhaps better able to accept criticism. People seem not to understand that there is a correlation between one’s actions and the respect one deserves. If you are lazy about getting grades in on time, how can I trust that your thinking on an issue being addressed will not be lazy as well? Why should I listen to you? If you stand me up for a meeting, how can I respect the next promise you make? (See “that flew under my radar” of previous blog post.)
Students, too, need to know that they can lose respect points. “I have that paper; I’ll print it out right after class.” Or not. “Traffic was really bad this morning.” Funny how it seems to be “really bad” every time class meets at 8:00. Neither of these situations is of major import – except for the fact that there is something called “the truth,” and those who play fast and loose with “the truth” are not, in my mind, deserving of as much respect as those who consider it a rather major requirement for human communication. Those of you who do, take some more respect points. From me at least.
I’m not even going to start on the sports figure who talks about being “disrespected” because he is offered only twenty million dollars to play next year. Language like that shows just as much of a lack of understanding of the word as the student who can’t discern the truth from the not truth, the adult who does not seem to understand the responsibilities that come with being considered a professional. And Aretha, she says the same.