Within the past week, two phrases were presented to me, both of which have resonated with me on some level. The first was said by my World History professor as we discussed the progression of “armchair philosophers” that led to the French Revolution. This is what it boiled down to:
“Our respect for other people is based upon our understanding of and respect for the fact that they are thinking beings like ourselves.”
The second was a fun little quote brought up in an adult Sunday School lesson by an elder in my church:
“‘Just love everyone, I’ll sort them out later.’ –God”
Both, I feel, are very important concepts many of us fail to grasp in our modern world. Instead of finding ourselves willing to listen to everyone’s point of view and respect their opinions (even when we might not agree with them), we have devolved into a global culture hell-bent on developing more efficient ways of mass-murdering those who refuse to adopt our ways. On a daily basis, I hear people say things like “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion,” or “They’re an adult, they can do whatever they want.” Half of the time, these are genuine statements of fact, but are said sarcastically the other half.
Why do we constantly feign respect for other people? Have we ceased understanding the fact that they, too, have the ability to think intelligently? Or have we simply ceased harboring any respect for that unique, amazing ability that is characteristic of over seven billion human being just like ourselves?
RESPECT IS A TWO-WAY STREET
I have come to believe that it is each individual’s duty to take responsibility for their actions, to own who they are, no matter the consequences. We should each be too busy bettering ourselves to worry about how other people live their lives. Instead of shifting the blame for how crappy the world has become from oneself to onto others, we should each take it upon ourselves to do what we can to help the world grow; all too often, we–perhaps unintentionally–try to tear down what we don’t like, harming those around us and causing an unnecessarily large rift to form where once there could have been friendship.
In short, I’m challenging each of you to choose your words carefully, taking into consideration where the other person is coming from before you try forcing them into the tight molds of your own thoughts. Think about the effect your words will have on those around you and compare it to the effect you want to have on those same people. Let’s each try to build up the world instead of continuing to tear it down, to ensure a brighter future for us all!