I don’t think there is a more attractive virtue in this divided country than respect. People have always told me that “respect must be earned” but frankly, I disagree. I only know a couple of hundred people well enough to “earn” my respect, so if everyone has to earn it, I am not going to respect most of the people on the planet.
Here is a radical idea: “Let’s offer everyone respect and make people earn disrespect.” Certainly, there are people who have, by their own actions and attitudes, earned my disrespect but why not offer the other folks the benefit of the doubt? What if we all made respect and not disrespect our default toward others?
I have long maintained, “If you want to see someone’s true character, pay attention to how they treat people who could never do anything for them.” Everyone treats powerful people well (to their faces anyway) but what about the people who could never upwardly network you or give you a raise or a promotion? What if we treated everyone, I mean everyone, equally well? And really well!
This week, I encourage you to be respectful in what you say, how you act, what you post and what you tweet. Retreat to “out of fashion” virtues like calling people “sir” or “ma’am. Say “Please” and “thank you.” Watch your language. Extend the gift of the benefit of the doubt. Show the person working the counter at McDonalds the kind of respect you would your boss’ boss. I have discovered that people tend to act significantly more respectful to others when they are shown respect by others. Respect is actually quite contagious! It can even go viral!
There is no down side to treating people well.
You want to change the world?
Here is a place to start: Open the door for someone who has their hands full and give them a warm “you are most welcome” when they thank you. I assure you, that is a door that swings both ways.
Rev. Shane L. Bishop has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.
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