The respect-ability factor

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 13, 2016

One of the regular axioms of growing up, or at least older, it the regular admonition to respect one’s elders. Not so many generations ago, children were not to be interactive with adults at all, as they were kept firmly in the background of their parents’ lives to be “seen and not heard.”
As the decades have passed, the very idea of what constitutes childhood has changed to define our children’s’ early ages as the pre-adult stage, where their repetitive vocal rejections of more mature expectations often deflect the attempts to provide mentorship guidance. We see this most modern phenomenon exhibited and reinforced in our schools, in the media and in our homes. Today, those in prior roles of authority bend to the wishes of these pseudo-adults and are far more sensitive to their revolutionary youthful adult-abilities, so seemingly lacking in earlier times.
Being respected has become less a matter of earned wisdom and maturity, by now becoming a nativist demand for respect, insisted because of the very presence of the individual. What was once respect for a Person of Letters, has devolved into anathema for the alphabet in total, excepting the jargon expressed through street lingo.
Regularly, and with great volume, we are oft presented with the curious vocalization of being disrespected. Indeed, it is curious, as though there is a viral plot to inflame our passions and our superior sensibilities, by those who do not understand and agree with our lifestyles, our moral positions, or points of view. Disrespect, in the sense of offense, is then escalated into a further negative response, which so viscerally disrespects others. So it goes…on and on.
What is lost, in this earthly confusion of humankind, is the regularly negated ability to respect ourselves and then to respect others. Oh yes, we have the ability, but as with any exercised muscle, it has to be used regularly. Consider the abilities we have to create, inspire and develop, yet we regularly may fail to achieve our own individual greatness, as we may have fallen short in our own personal respect. Consider the far greater abilities we have as a joined society, as we have failed to achieve our potential due to the fractured nature of this sense of disrespect, within the gender, race, political and religious factions, apparently so endemic within ourselves.
Of course, there are those who bewail the unintended, or intended, sins and wickedness of others, seeing themselves as victims of their perceived disrespect. For them, seemingly, there is no lens to provide clarity. For many, however, it is understood that it is within our failures where we may seek our most valuable opportunities.
Lacking an earnest respect for others is, often, an ungrounded disrespect for ourselves. Given we have the God-given ability to make the correct choices in our lives and interactions with others, then why do we insist that respect is somehow owed to us, just by our presence and awful behaviors? Clearly, nature does not respect us, nor the inane vagaries of this mortal coil.
Christ Jesus, by answering the Pharisees prodding’s in the Temple in Jerusalem, made our answer to this quandary most clear. He said, “You shall love your God, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Here is our answer. Surely, it is not for us to be intimidated, manipulated and insulted, but we are to have the compassionate understanding of the appropriate response for those who would not provide respect for themselves, for their God, and their fellow man.
This respect-ability for others is offered towards their disrespect, which allows us to edify God’s will and follow it. This allows us to be respected and be respect-full.

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

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