Why is Respect So Hard to Dish Out These Days?

With the world emerging from a tumultuous year where all of humanity faced down a pandemic, it seems more and more people are intolerant of one another.

As we emerge from the pandemic that kept us locked in our homes, separate from family, friends, and neighbors, I think it’s time we all look in the mirror and ask the question: why do we treat others without respect these days?

Whether it’s because of how you think, how you look, or how you vote, levels of disrespect for one another have reached epic proportions.

Why is it so difficult for us to find mutual respect for one another?

We seemingly live a schizophrenic existence where talk of equality, tolerance, and diversity dominates almost every aspect of our lives. Yet, we’re anything but those things.

Where is the respect for the free-thinking skeptic?

Where is the respect for the contrarian?

Where is the respect for those strong in their faith?

Where is the respect for those who have different views than your own?

Where is the respect for the ugly, imperfect, and crucial history of our forefathers?

Where is the respect for ourselves?

I know that I am a sample of one. My experiences and look at life can only be my own. Still, talking to others these days, there is the agreement we’ve perhaps become so self-centered and focused on what we believe to be true, we no longer want to hear or feel what anyone else has to say. Our culture and our behavior towards one another have become so punitive, so callous, so dismissive.

A wise mentor once told me: “Respect everyone you meet in life, no matter what color they are, what they do for a living, or what they look like - unless they give you reason not to.”

We live in a time where politics have become a religion, and if your dogma is different, you’re worthless, and there is no room for discussion or understanding.

We live in a time when the most simple ways to show other people the basic level of human respect are lost on most.

We live in a time when our elders are treated with disdain.

We live in a time when many times, pets are treated better than our fellow homo sapiens.

Does it have to be this way? Have we let one another down so much we no longer care about what happens to our neighbor?

It reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite philosophers and writers - Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said:

“Men are respectable only as they respect.”

Respect is a two-way street. This callous and abrasive culture we’re now propagating must change. At a time when buzzwords talk of creating a more diverse and inclusive society, we’re not walking the walk.

We must respect the diversity of thought, the diversity of reason, the diversity of age, and the diversity of outcomes.

It’s time to realize you are not the center of the universe - nor am I. We’re all in a shared experience, and the only way we progress is by treating each other with respect.

Yes, we may not agree or live our lives the same.

But isn’t that freedom? Shouldn’t we all have the basic respect all humans deserve?

I say yes. It’s time we start learning how to respect all people so we can learn to respect ourselves.