Sunday, June 05, 2011

Respectism and The Endeavour for a Mutually Respectful Society

espectism is the belief that a mutually respectful society is a pragmatic necessity for our survival.

When we talk about containing pollution or genocide or nuclear weapons, it is surprising that we have not recognized the central truth: We are the problem.

At this late date, too few have recognized the most basic political issue: Our human family, living in the thin strip of life painted on this planet, must get along better, or we will kill ourselves off.

Until the truth about the universal need for a mutually respectful society is recognized and addressed by enough of us, we will never be able to solve the perilous riddle of how to survive our weapons and our waste.

Respectism defines a mutually respectful society as one in which enough of us are cooperating to help each other balance the three everyday, instinctual elements of respect: respect for self, others and place.

Respect for self honors the individual will to survive and thrive, respect for others honors the humanity of all human beings and honors the life that surrounds us, respect for place honors everything from a shared table to shared earth, water and air.

The respectism Venn diagram presents respect as a centering of three values that usually overlap, but which are not the same, honestly admitting that true respect is a skill to be developed over a lifetime.

Not everyone is ready to believe that a more respectful society is essential to our survival.

Throughout history, there have been selfish and mean leaders, those who have willingly followed them, and those who have said we will never change.

Those of us who believe that a more respectful society is essential and possible will want to do the following.

First, Respect for Others, Self and Place must be universally and sincerely advertised and promoted as a value for all.

Second, those who abuse and oppress others must be respectfully kept from power, and the behavior patterns of those who obtain power through fear, abuse, exploitation of prejudice and distortion of principles must be commonly recognized in order to assist with that endeavour.

Third, fair dealing, based on listening dialogue, honest negotiation, and equality must be promoted as the mechanism for creating a respectful society in public and private settings including justice for all, representative leadership and governance, economic exchange, the meeting of basic human needs, friendship, family and love.

Fourth, the success of a respectful society must be measured by the decrease of all acts and threats of violence and involuntary detention, including those needed for true self-defense of the individual or society, as well as by the decrease of hunger and homelessness, and in the quality of our air, land and water.

Fifth, the principles of a respectful society must be kept simple and clear enough for young children to learn, adults to believe and the vulnerable to own as well as the powerful, so that respectism is never confused with an illusion of respectability, or authoritarianism, or made the enemy of liberty. 

If a mutually respectful society seems like an idealistic fantasy, please answer this question: "How will we survive without changing our behavior towards one another?"

No one knows exactly how we will create a society truly based on respect for self, others, and place 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.

Love is the soul of respect, and respect is the language of love.

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