By Lee Parker
Do you remember the popular song by Aretha Franklin, ”R *E* S* P* E* C*T”? It is decades old and has been recorded by many other artists, including Diana Ross and the Supremes.
In today’s world, respect is all too often taken for granted.
As with all words, it is important that we have a mutual understanding of its meaning. We need a common language and understanding in order to properly grasp what is meant by “respect”. My source for definitions remains Webster’s dictionary. Both the 1828 first edition by Noah Webster and also modern dictionaries use the word “esteem” as one description of respect. Respect is synonymous with esteem.
As I look around our country today I see a total lack of respect or esteem for just about anything and everything in life. I see television commercials where the point of the advertisement is to disrespect another person or idea in order to sell a product or service. I see parents who have no respect for their children. I see people who have no esteem for themselves.
We learn respect at home and in church. How do you teach a child to esteem what he or she has? Esteem is taught through example. When we respect ourselves and our own belongings, the child learns to respect his or her belongings and self.
Often I see a child destroying a toy, hurting an animal, or sassing mom. Allowing such behavior cultivates disrespect. Yet I consistently see children acting like this, and worse, parents condoning it. Children who destroy their toys are thought to be precocious and better toys are often bought. Children are given pets and then allowed to ignore or hurt them while mom takes care of the animal. Children talk back to their parents and are allowed to do it because the parents “want to be liked” by their offspring.
Is the lack of respect we are seeing today an outgrowth of turning our lives over to the federal government rather than the Creator? Have we turned the teaching of respect over to television, public schools, and strangers? Have too many parents forgotten that we must teach respect in order for our children to learn respect. Have we forgotten that that when we fail to respect ourselves, our children watch and learn?
When was the last time you noticed yourself being disrespectful to another? What about the last time you were disrespectful to yourself? Translate these questions and hear them again using another word. When was the last time you failed to esteem another? When was the last time you failed to esteem yourself? When was the last time you were without esteem for what was right, for what was just, for what was true?
If we do not esteem others, ourselves, and the Law of YHVH, then we are being disrespectful. Now I realize that I cannot force another person to esteem himself or herself. I cannot make you respect yourself. I cannot compel you to respect me, but I can and do respect myself. I esteem who I am and what I have done with the life my Creator has given me. I show this respect by loving myself and then passing that love on to you.
In the midst of the current turmoil that surrounds everyday life, it is vital that each of you remember that your unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property were endowed to you by your Creator. They are Holy gifts, and you are the chosen recipient of these gifts. Remember to respect yourself and others, too. Hold yourself and your fellow American in esteem. If you don’t then why are we fighting for our freedom?
By Lee Parker