I am always delighted when something I write provokes a discussion.
I like to be agreed with as much as the next person – (OK, hubby, a LOT more than the next person), but I also love it when Disagreement is not disagreeable at all. But thought-provoking. And just plan Interesting.
My last blog “You Are Entitled” generated this kind of conversation. In that blog, I wrote that although I understood the sentiment that the world doesn’t owe you anything, I didn’t necessarily agree. I feel you are entitled as a human being to:
It was the last point – Respect – that initiated many comments – (all polite and therefore “respectful”, by the way.)
Many commenters – both on the blog and some in person or emailed by friends – felt strongly that Respect is not something you are entitled to. But rather, something you EARN.
And I see their point.
The notion of Respect is very nuanced. And although in my blog post, I defined it as the simple acceptance of You as you are, the very word ‘respect’ conveys so many other concepts Not only acceptance and tolerance, but also appreciation and approval – and even admiration. And certainly Approval and Admiration aren’t inalienable rights.
But what about Respect as defined this way: The recognition of the dignity in each of us, for who we are? And maybe, just maybe, for who we are capable of being?
Here is a story:
About fifteen years ago, my husband built the beautiful house we live in today. He was the general contractor, but he is not a general contractor by trade, only by his great talent and building knowledge. So he had to hire subcontractors for the first time in many many years. He stopped at many job sites and talked to people and watched them work. And little by little, we had framers and carpenters and roofers and tilers and electricians. My husband hired many of these subcontractors by the level of carefulness and attention to detail he witnessed in their work. Not by any big portfolio of success stories. Our house was a very complex project. Some of our subcontractors had never worked on such a big and complicated house. But if they were intimidated, they soon overcame it, because my husband demonstrated that he had confidence in their abilities. He told them,
“You can do this because you have great talent and because you’ll get so much satisfaction by doing work you are proud of.”
And the result was this:
These contractors did the best work of their lives.
They took pictures. They made scrapbooks. They brought prospective customers to see their work. And, I think – most importantly – they brought their families over to see what they had built.
So here is what I offer based on this experience.
Perhaps you are correct if you think that Respect has to be earned.
But what if –
What if –
We all just started to respect each other even BEFORE it is earned?
The hardwood floor in my foyer. Individual pieces of wood that were designed, cut, and installed by a local carpenter who had never laid a parquet floor before.