On Respect and Kindness – Redux

Yesterday, I received a comment on a post I had written waayyyy back in June 2015 (not this post).  It was so long ago that I had no idea what the post had been about and had to re-read the post to refresh my memory.  It was ironic how everything I wrote in that post had changed in the last 3+ years.  It made me start thinking, though, about what else I might have written ‘way back when’.  And as I took a brief stroll through past posts, I was reminded of the quote by 19th century journalist/novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” — the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The following is a post I wrote on 03 November 2016, 5 days before the 2016 presidential election.  Today, just over two weeks before the mid-term elections, this post is still as relevant as it was then.  

“This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“I’m not everybody’s cup of tea. But sometimes criticism can be hurtful. Be respectful. I’m a good piano player, I can sing well, I write good songs. If you don’t like it, fair enough. But give me a break.” – Elton John

sad-turltleI was plugging away, working on the post for runner up Idiot of the Year Ted Nugent, when something went SNAP in my mind and I knew I had to write this post for this afternoon.  No worries, you will read all about Mr. Nugent tomorrow, but for today I need to talk about respect and kindness, or lack of, as it were.

cracked-shellIt is only Thursday, and already this week I have, either directly or indirectly, been called ignorant, thin-skinned, dumb, uneducated, a freak, a f—ing liar, and more.  Now, admittedly I take a strong stand on certain issues, and pull few punches in my writing, so I expect a certain amount of rancor.  I have a pretty tough shell, but there is a straw that breaks even the sturdiest camel’s back, and I am increasingly disturbed by the extent to which some are allowing the rhetoric of this election drive their own behaviour.

At the end of the day on November 8th, long after the votes have been tallied and a winner declared, there will still be life on earth.  Our day-to-day routines will not change, we will still have our families to take care of, jobs to attend to, meals to cook and homes to clean.  We will still need our friends and neighbors.  But at the rate we are going, will we have friends left?  Make no mistake, this election is very important and it is understandable that people are vociferously defending the candidate of their choice.  But I think this can be done without name-calling, without slurs directed toward individuals.  If not then we are less humane than even I thought, and I tend to be cynical about human nature to begin with.

respect-1I know I am not alone in saying that I have lost friends over this election, friends whom I have known for years.  I can say ‘good riddance’, but my heart remains sad.  Are we truly such shallow beings that we are willing to directly insult others just to make our point?  Can we not find ways to explain why we support our candidate without calling the other person ‘stupid’?  Are we truly not the same people we were two years ago, or were these traits always there, merely lying dormant waiting for the right catalyst? If we cannot converse, cannot share ideas without being verbally assaulted, insulted, and screamed at, what does that say about us as human beings?

The ability to have a respectful, engaged, and informed conversation about politics is essential for a society that prizes the ideals of liberty and freedom. It was what the framers of the Constitution intended when they wrote the document to be short and understandable by farmers and tradesmen throughout the thirteen states.  But the conversations I see today, the screeching, name-calling, ugly talk is more reminiscent of 1930s Nazi Germany where neighbor turned on neighbor, friend on friend.

The candidates in this election, one in particular, appear to have ‘inspired’ Americans to act in this manner, to call people names, to insult others and hurt their feelings.  One of my great fears is that long after these candidates have left public office, long after you and I have left this earth, this attitude of cruelty and disrespect will remain, will, in fact, have become the norm.

I cherish my friends and family, and do not take them lightly.  That said, I have a greater need for self-respect than I do the respect of others. You do not have to agree with me for me to like you.  You do not have to vote as I do, like the same foods as I do, or even put your socks on the same way I do.  But the one thing you must do is treat me with respect, for when you call me ignorant, my self-respect will no longer allow me to be your friend.  It’s as simple as that.  And you know the funny thing about self-respect?  We each have to live with ourselves 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We have to listen to ourselves, our consciences, at 2:00 a.m. when we cannot sleep, and we need to be able to like and trust ourselves all day, every day.  Others, we only have to deal with for short periods of time.  So in the long run, our self-respect is more important than whether others respect us or not.  Think about it.


26 thoughts on “On Respect and Kindness – Redux

  1. Dear Jill,

    Weren’t you right on the money in your predictions in 2016 about the downgrading of civility across the board, It is not okay to simply have a different point of view to where those with differing opinions should are automatically defined as evil.

    But I’ve gotten to the point that I’m suspect of anyone who still openly supports President Trump because they have to compromise their moral values too much to continue to back this man.

    Hugs, gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was obvious even back then, when Trump was encouraging violence against peaceful protesters, that we would come to this point. And no, my friend, it is definitely NOT okay.

      Sadly, I am at the same point you are. I am mistrustful of those who, through all his blatant hate-filled speech, his lies, his sexual assaults, his speech against both minorities and women, can support him. But the ones that gall me the most are the so-called evangelicals who are anti-LGBT, anti-abortion, holier-than-thou people who can turn a blind eye to all the things Trump has done that are in direct conflict with the teachings they claim to believe. There can be only one word for these … H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a sad commentary Colette, but so true. Everything you said. But at the end of the day, it simply feels better to do the right thing. I don’t care who knows it, who cares if I do or don’t do something, who thinks I’m odd and all that. This is not to say I don’t fall short myself and slip back into a more selfish stance at times. But at least I’m conscious of trying to do the right thing and that is all that’s important to me.

    We are in very uncharted territory at this moment in time and I fear something BIG is going to be the only thing that will reverse it and I don’t have a clue to what that might be.

    It’s curious to me that we all can discuss a favorite movie and a musical choice or the way to fix a roast without any hate or nasty remarks, but then not so much with say child rearing or responsible stewardship of the planet. Then comes the big two…religion and politics and for these, people have not only become uncivil and downright threatening, but these two things are what start wars, increase terrorism and ultimately could end all life as we know it.

    So what is it about these two things and they are often intertwined, that are so difficult and why? I don’t have the answer and there are many, I’m sure and it’s as old as time itself. But now with instant social media comments, 24/7 news cycles, other articles on the internet, blogs and all of it make it all so much faster and the punch much harder.

    I will admit freely, when I hear someone who is a evangelical religious person or a rabid trump supporter, I instantly recoil inside and think “what is wrong with this person and how can they think like that” etc. and I’m sure they would feel the same towards me, being non religious and very much against trump and most of the republicans at this time. So the instant feelings would be the same. Why is it so visceral? These two things?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Because people hate anything they don’t understand or that is different to them. It is a very primitive response and one that perpetuates itself in the gangs formed by children. We really need a new sort of education that rewards respect towards others, animals and the environment. It is slowly dawning on people. Change will come if we keep the pressure on.

      Here in the UK, the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’) has started some big campaigns, asking government to have respect and care for animals taught in schools, and also targeting all supermarkets to meet more than the basic regulations on the care of farm animals. This is having some impact and places the public spotlight on good practices post Brexit (when EU basic welfare rules could be abandoned).

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Jill, thanks for re-posting this. Right now, we have an absence of leadership in our country. We need leaders to help us be better, not be worse. Name-calling, labeling and demeaning people is not leadership. Lying at a rampant rate is not leadership. Picking fights when none are needed is not leadership. Acting like a pathetic little man is not leadership.

    Empathy, humility and humanity are needed by great leaders. Think of those traits as you look for them in our leaders. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you Jill for a timely post, and thank you Colette for a brave comment.
    First, to Jill, I am always amazed at the “coincidences” in my life, how words I have just used or thoughts I have just spoken aloud suddenly appear on the radio or television, sometimes seemingly simultaneous to my speaking them. The very last thing I did before reading this post was to finish reading a short story where it took robots to show humans how ridiculous their petty squabbles (we call them wars) really are. And that is exactly what you are saying, only with a different focus. Politiical differences (wars) are as nothing compared to humans (nations) getting along, and respecting each other. What is it in us that allows us to do these things, to debase, to hurt, to hate, and to kill? Is it part of our DNA? I certainly hope not. But even if it is, we humans have the ability and strength to deny what our DNA tells us, and love our neighbours no matter what. All it takes is a little effort on our part, and all the hurt and hatred will disappear. Is it really too much to ask of each other? Again, I certainly hope not. We can live together in peace, but only if we choose to.
    And, now, to Collette, I hope you read this. I live in a small town. Outside this small town is a garbage dump. Around this garbage dump is a forest. On the ground around the trees are plastic bags blown there from the dump by the wind. For a few years now I have been suggesting to my partner that we go and start picking up these plastic bags, which number at least as many as there are seemingly leaves on the trees. But she has always said, “Another time, maybe.” I think today is the day another time arrives. This is not something that can be accomplished in one day, maybe not in a month of days. But it is something that direly needs to be done. And I am the person that needs to do it, even if my partner won’t. Thank you for the inspiration…

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right … we humans have the capacity, the capability, of rising above the baser instincts of our human nature, our DNA, but we must make that conscious choice to do so. Sadly, far too many choose not to, being perfectly content, it seems, to go on hating all that they consider “other”.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Hmmmm … perhaps you are right … in which case, our schools are failing miserably. But then we already knew that, or at least those of us who believe the purpose of education is to learn to actually think for oneself knew it.


    • I have the idea that if everyone picked up and binned two pieces of rubbish as they made their daily walk around the planet, the rubbish would slowly start to disappear. Seeing loads of people pick up rubbish, encourages others to do the same so that they have a better environment. When that happens, the people who drop litter will be more noticeable and more likely to feel guilt.
      The 100th monkey principle applies here, and it applies to more than just picking up rubbish. The results? – First they laugh, then they mock, then they rebuke, then they join in. Majority rules!

      Liked by 2 people

    • No, rawgod , not a brave comment… A necessary one. We have to show up the bigots even when they are in our own family…

      My husband’s weak excuse is that we are old, will soon be dead, can’t make a difference and should not worry about these things but enjoy life regardless of the waste. He has the idea that the human species will go extinct, but he doesn’t care because he won’t be here to see it!

      To outward appearance, my husband seems to be an ordinary, fairly compassionate, respectful person. Inwardly, he is something else and this is the enemy amongst us that we are up against. 😔

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, this is a timely post no matter when it’s origin was. Yes, the more things change, the more they do stay the same. Except respect and ridicule. There is less of the former and much more of the latter these days.

    After seeing what carelessly discarded plastic is doing to the planet, I made a sort of conscientious decision to make an effort to pick up plastic litter when out for a walk. Even if it is only one or two pieces, I thought, it makes a difference. So I do, but today when out with my husband and two friends, I became the subject of their sniggering as they saw me picking up litter and carrying it to a bin (sometimes for as much as a mile). They made fun of me and made silly comments that I was turning into ‘the Lady with the Van,’ a subject written about by Alan Bennet . I saw this as a sad reflection, that despite their Rhetoric, most people really don’t give @#&* about the environment or the fact that discarded plastics are killing our wildlife. One of the bottles I picked up had been there so long, it had shredded and started to break down into the miniscule shards that are found in the stomachs of birds.
    Despite my companions, I carried on, but noticed the stares of other walkers as I walked along with handfuls of battered bags, bottles and other nefarious objects.

    I, for one, will try to do my bit. But I will get no respect for it… only ridicule. I think you can apply this attitude to just about every attempt people make to put the world right.

    I figured it out pretty quickly… Unless people can make money doing something, or it is a self serving end to a chore, they will not do it all. People do not work together for the common good unless there is a reward.

    Getting people out to vote is under those same principles. Give em something that they can line their own pockets with and they will be right there, pencil in hand, saying “where do you want my vote?”

    Liked by 3 people

    • I am so so sorry that your husband and friends chose to mock instead of pitching in and helping! Behind my apartment complex, there is a decent little park with a walking track that is exactly 0.8 miles,so I like to go walk 5 laps (4 miles) when I can. Last year, in the early spring once the snow melted and I could go walking, I discovered a horrible mess! Water bottles, food wrappers, trash, even discarded shoes, socks and a pair of underwear! I was horrified, especially since there are no less than FIVE trash bins at the park. I did my walk, then after a bit of a rest at home, I donned rubber gloves, took a few trash bags and my broom, and Miss Goose and I went back and cleaned up the park. But … sigh … just a few days later there were already pop cans, water bottles, and an empty bourbon bottle. I think to myself, I wonder what these people’s homes look like?

      Liked by 2 people

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