Filosofa’s Meandering Mind …

What Is R.E.S.P.E.C.T.?

Yesterday, I played Aretha Franklin’s wonderful song, R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  And then, I did my usual perusal of the day’s news and a question began to form in my mind:  What, precisely, is respect?  My first answer was that it is something we have far too little of in this world today.

A quick look at the online dictionary gives two definitions for the word “respect”:

  • a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
  • due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.

Both are apt, I think, and certainly there are people who deserve our respect as per the first definition, though we might not agree on who those people are.  But the context in which I typically speak of respect is more aligned with the second definition … which can be simplified by my motto:  Live and Let Live!!!

So, let’s talk about this just a bit.  I’ve written about this before and will no doubt have occasion to write about it again, but I keep trying to understand, and keep hoping to make a difference somehow, even if only to open one mind.

I am a woman and I believe in women’s rights.  I believe in women having the same rights as men to vote, to be treated and compensated fairly in the workplace.  I believe women have just as much right as a man to own property, to divorce her spouse if a marriage isn’t working, and to make her own decisions about her own body.  I believe that a woman has a right to have access to birth control and to have an abortion if she deems that is what’s right for her, just as a man has a right to have a vasectomy if he decides he does not wish to sire children.  This does not, however, mean that I don’t respect women who choose not to have an abortion.  It is every woman’s own personal decision … it is NOT the decision of legislators, governors, and Supreme Court justices – or at least it should not be.  Just because I believe in the right to an abortion does not in any way mean that I would impose my will on your body.  It should, however, work the other way too.

Respect is a two-way street.  IF you expect me to respect your rights, then you must also respect mine … that’s just the way it works.

I am also an atheist, but I am very careful to show respect for other people’s religious beliefs as long as they do not harm anyone.  The law of this land, the U.S. Constitution, provides for freedom of religion … that means you can follow Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or be an atheist … you cannot be discriminated against for it!  But, the law of the land also calls for a “wall of separation between church and state” so that no one religion can become the national religion to the exclusion of all others.  I don’t tell you where to go to church or what to believe, and I respect your right to believe as you wish, but again … it must work the other way, too.  You must, in turn, respect my right to not believe in the religious rites and rituals of any religion.

I keep asking why people are so determined to attempt to force everyone into their own mold, and I think perhaps the answer boils down to fear of the unknown or the misunderstood.  Perhaps people spend so much time living in their narrow enclaves that they do not understand the world and therefore fear it.  Fear is a powerful motivator, and unfortunately people in power, whether political heads or religious heads, know how to use fear to drive hatred.  And We the People, like a herd of cattle, allow ourselves to be driven.

In this country, it is fear of Black people, fear of Muslims, fear of LGBTQ people, that are keeping the country so divided that it is truly a tinderbox just waiting for someone to throw a lit match.  You mind if I let you in on a little secret?  I have Black friends, Muslim friends, gay friends and trans friends, Christian friends, atheist friends, agnostic friends, and Jewish friends, and I love them all … I do not fear any of them.  I respect them, their beliefs, and it is in part our differences that keep our friendships interesting!  We learn from one another!  Wouldn’t the world be a lackluster, boring place if we were all exactly the same?

We need to learn to embrace our differences, to respect others’ rights as we expect them to respect ours, and we need to learn to LIVE AND LET LIVE!!!  If we don’t, we will soon destroy ourselves, destroy the nation from within, and turn it into some dystopian society in which nobody would want to live.

30 thoughts on “Filosofa’s Meandering Mind …

  1. Respect … is a two-way street. Someone doesn’t have any respect for me I can’t think of any good reason to have any respect for them. Not (((The Golden Rule))), the brass (knuckles) rule …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed. Typically, respect comes from shared values and ideologies, so respect is likely to be mutual. These days, though, it seems that it’s hard to respect the people who think we should be able to … it’s a lack of trust.


  2. That ‘separation of church and state’ doesn’t seem to be working that well in America. Year on year, politicians are using Christian fundamentalism to attract votes, and even the less crazy people are too often calling on a God to support or justify their actions.
    Not to mention all those ‘prayers’ for the people killed in mass shootings. They don’t seem to be helping one bit.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The “wall of separation” was built, but of late the religious right, with the aid of their favored politicians, have been doing their level best to tear it down. They want to make prayer mandatory in schools and in Congress. They want to fly religious flags at government buildings. Ultimately, I have no doubt they would like to make church a requirement for every taxpayer! And no, the “thoughts and prayers” spewed forth in the wake of every mass shooting are useless and are an insult to the victims and their families.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “I think perhaps the answer boils down to fear of the unknown or the misunderstood.”

    I will grant you the motivation of fear, Jill, but I do not think it is the only one — or even the main one, especially when it comes to religion. Not all religions do this, but Xianity and Islam do both believe themselves to be “the only real religion.” How many battles have been fought, how many people have been uselessly murdered, to try to prove the superiority of one religion over the other, or in the case of places like Ireland, one sect of a religion is superior to another sect of the same religion. Too any people have died because of a need for one person’s religion to be superior to another person’s religion.
    Now start all over, but change the word religion to race, or nationality, or lifestyle, or sex, or gender, or a dozen other things. It is not just fear of other but a learned need to be better than someone who is different!
    Yes, fear is a big part, but often people do not fear other as such,but they also fear that they are not really as good as the other. Their response to that kind of fear is hatred. No matter the reality, they feel they have to prove they are somehow better, to the point of standing over someone else’s dead body.
    Even this does not cover everything, such as that horrible Replacement Theory, where people are convinced someone else is trying to relace them. To them, that is reason enough to kill other people.
    Live and let live is a wonderful mantra for life. But a lot of people do not feel or believe that. Too many believe they know the correct way for everyone else to live, snd thdy will not rest until they get their way..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, I agree with all you say. And while we keep thinking, keep telling ourselves that we are learning, growing, becoming somehow better, more caring, more tolerant, the reality is that in several millennium, humans really haven’t changed much at all. We take a step forward, then reverse it a few years later.


      • But we are advancing, overall. If we were able to convene a discussion group of people from BC times, Roman times, medieval times, Industrial Revolution times, and people from each century of the past 4 centuries, hardly anyone would be able to relate to people not of their own time period. We cannot lose sight of the progress we have made, and will continue to make — if we don’t allow Apocalypse believers to try to bring on the End of the World.
        Because in reality that is what is holding us back, those people who want to force their lesser god to return, as promised in their bible. They might destroy our world, but Christ will not return to glorify them for its destruction. For all their faith, they cannot make him real!

        Liked by 1 person

        • We are advancing technologically, but not in the ways of humanity. People are no more kind today than they were 100 years ago or 1,000 years ago. We still attempt to segregate people, to deny equal rights to all, to condemn those who dare to be different, whether biologically or by their actions. No, there will be no deity of any sort swooping down to save mankind … we either do it ourselves or perish.


          • I believe we are advancing spiritually, meaning in togetherness. It is hard to see I will admit, but i my previous comment I was not even thinking technologically, which I don’t care a rat’s ass about. Spirituality is my main focus in life, and this is what I see best.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Whilst I agree with most of what you say as always, I don’t like the comparison of an abortion with a male vasectomy.
    Yes, a man can decide not to father children and can have the snip.But if a woman wants to make the decision not to have children she can have her tubes tied and not take the risk of pregnancy necessitating an abortion. Thge v Government , in a bid to avoid unwanted pregnancies could make the morning after pill freely available to all women,no matter their colour. Prevention in tis way would stop either political party being able to use abortion as a weapon at the polls. in the future. And since both operations are reversible, no-one is denied the right to have a family at a time they agree is right for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess my comparison was more generalized than a direct comparison to a man having a vasectomy vs a woman having an abortion. I was thinking more along the broader lines of having the right to make one’s own decisions about one’s body, one’s life. There are literally zero restrictions placed on what a man can or cannot do with his own body, but women are denied the right to make their own decisions … instead the state and the courts, influenced by the religious fanatics, make their decisions for them. And historically, the woman’s stake in the issue is much higher, for how many men sire a child, then walk away, leaving the woman to provide food/clothing/shelter for that child with little or no help from the sire? That all said, I do understand your point, and prevention (vasectomy, birth control, abstinence) is far preferable to abortion whenever possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Live and let live is also my motto. And “do onto others as you wish they do onto you (I don’t know if that is the correct English formulation, but you know what I mean). In theory we wouldn’t need any other laws and regulations.

    Humans are very much fear motivated, and the media are stimulating that. Fearful people are easier to manipulate. People without fear demonstrate and protest (look at France), which government wants that?

    Liked by 2 people

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