Sunday, March 19, 2006

Respect. Others. Self. Place.






















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Respect. Others. Self. Place.

"I have never truly published, and have advertised anonymously only rarely, but I have sent various individuals various essays on the importance of recognizing respect as a meta-issue since the late 80's."

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Pasted above is a clipping of rare advertising placed anonymously in the Austin Chronicle on page 22 of the April 21, 1995 issue. Not having yet heard of a "meme", my mind-video was that of dandelion flower seeds stepping onto the wind. The text of the advertisement is in the block below, or you may read the clipping by clicking it twice to enlarge.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.





"Today we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships, the ability of all people, of all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world at peace..."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

RESPECT

Respect is the challenge facing us all. As spiritual leaders and others have said for centuries, human beings should respect one another and themselves. Rape, racism, pollution, addiction and war are all failures of respect, but they are reported and discussed separately as though unrelated. The failure to recognize respect as a central political issue is a crisis. The crisis is local and global.

We can recognize central problems. "Environment" is a single term symbolizing earth, air, water and vital connections between living things. Transportation, recycling and pollution are all "environmental" issues. When child abuse, terrorism, mean poverty and caring for the planet are all seen as "respect" issues, then we can begin a respectful society.

Moving toward a respectful society will mean building cooperation and understanding in every part of society. The foundation of understanding is listening, problem-solving dialogue. Good listening is key. It is a learned skill, which allows mutual understanding necessary for cooperation. Refusal to listen requires no skill and is common to housefold fights and stalled peace talks. We should hope to become a world of good listeners, people who value difference with understanding, peaceful negotiation, and mutually agreeable compromise.

If a respectful world seems like an idealistic fantasy, please ask yourself, how will our species survive without changing our behavior towards one another? Extraordinary cooperation is needed to save ourselves from nuclear disaster and our own waste. No one knows exactly how we will create a respectful society, anymore than the inventors of the first flying machine could have imagined a space shuttle. We must start performing countless experiments in respect, if we are to survive. We should start now.

A respectful society depends on respect from each person towards all others as mcuh as possible. A respectful society respects each person as much as possible and encourages self-respect. Members of a respectful society are not afraid to say out loud that love is the soul of respect, and that respect is the language of love. Members of a respectful society guide their experiments in respect and their lives with a simple rule: Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you do, respect yourself and respect others. R.Y.R.O.

R.Y.R.O. "ryro," may seem like a simple idea, but imagine living in a world where we all believed in an idea such as this. Please pass this message on if you agree. Thank you. Day by day, the gardener allows the plant to grow.
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Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Others are inspired to write books. I was inspired by the kindergarten essay, the "begin it now" essay, the random kindness bumper sticker, and Tracy Chapman's observation that revolution starts with a whisper.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

As I recall, someone wrote a letter to the Chronicle in reply, asking how they could possibly run an essay on respect while running sex industry ads, and then someone wrote a reply to that letter. The Chronicle regretted not clarifying that the essay was paid advertising. There was no other discussion.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Various editions of the same essay have been sent by post-card and e-mail to politicians, writers, editors, and others over the years. Apparently, the writing does not fire the imagination. There were few responses, and as of this writing, if you google the first sentence, "Respect is the challenge facing us all" in quotes, there are no entries.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

In 1999, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot published Respect: An Exploration. She profiled six individuals who displayed aspects of respect: empowerment, healing, dialogue, curiousity, self-respect, and attention.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

In 2001, Susanne Slay-Westbrook published A World of Respect: A Guide to Making it Happen. The link takes you to her website.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Both authors argue for the importance of making respect a central value in society. Unfortunately, neither has become a household name. Even more importantly, the silence on respect as an issue remains deafening.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

If I were to pick the most important sentence out of the 1995 essay, it might be: "The failure to recognize respect as a central political issue is a crisis." In earlier drafts, I actually repeated that sentence twice for effect.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

"The failure to recognize respect as central political issue is a crisis." If you have read this far with me, I implore you to join me in reading the next sentence out loud: "The failure to recognize respect as a central political issue is a crisis."

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

We still treat "rape, racism, pollution, addiction and war" and countless other failures of respect as though they are unconnected. We are running out out of time.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

About twenty years ago, I sat through a lecture on chronic pain where the doctor repeated every few minutes this simple message: "Never tell a chronic pain patient, that the pain is all in his head." His theory, that a simple message randomly repeated in a lecture again would be remembered indefinitely, has proven true for me.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Of course, randomly repeating a message often enough to become unforgettable is the beating heart of all advertising. I would suggest that what we have here is a failure to advertise respect.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

And a question still worth asking: "If a respectful world seems like an idealistic fantasy, please ask yourself, how will our species survive without changing our behavior towards one another?"

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

If I had known in 1995, what I know now, I would have mentioned the importance of keeping predictably abusive people away from power. To some degree, the fate of our world may hinge on improving our ability to easily recognize and reject the leadership of sociopaths and narcissists among others.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

I was talking to my father recently. He has heard many times about the importance of recognizing respect. He confessed to glazing over. It seemed to him like all these years, I was talking about the Golden Rule.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

I agreed that I was saying nothing new. It's just that the whole respect thing's become really, really, really, really, really, important now. We're about to kill ourselves off. The need for respect among people, for oneself, for the environment, has taken on a certain practical urgency. Getting along should be the new Manhattan Project.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

"Extraordinary cooperation is needed to save ourselves from nuclear disaster and our own waste." We won't get to cooperation without figuring out the respect thing. We are still at the addict's famous first step. We have not admitted that we have one problem to be solved, before any of our other problems can be solved.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

We need to learn from the AK-47, the rugged automatic weapon copied the world over, often for use by child soldiers. Let us build a simple indestructible, universal understanding on respect that can be owned and operated by all adults and any child over the age of three.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

By the way, the inventor of the AK-47 regrets not having invented a better lawn mower instead.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Let us build a new code based on respect for others, self and place. Let us start our countless experiments in listening, problem-solving dialogue and cooperation now. Let us advertise for the good within us to come out.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

Let us give to the respect.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.

God knows. Only respect and love will save us.

Respect. Others. Self. Place.


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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog came through on my second attempt.

In our modern quest to shake off the shackles of the past I fear that we have thrown out the bathwater along with the baby, in the case of cultural values.

Men are no longer proud to support their offspring--single motherhood went from 26% to 42% in a decade or two. Foul language is frequently overheard in public. Children act out, neglected by overworked parent or even parents, plural, who have no time and patience to teach patience and good manners.

I heard it said, "if we were fish, water would be the last thing we'd think to study." I regret the lapses in civility we witness in America.
FM

1:18 PM  
Blogger OZ said...

Perhaps the respect solution does not resonate because in fact, respect is a product of separation. In the fullness of things, there is no such thing.

7:52 AM  

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