Do We Respect Disrespect?
In today’s world, are we respecting those that are disrespectful? As I watch our political leaders, I wonder if their followers are respecting the disrespect that many of them show toward those who disagree with them. Many commercials seem to have disrespect as their main theme. And, consider the many sitcoms that constantly display people being disrespectful to each other. Of course, when it comes to entertainment, a disrespectful scene is not necessarily bad. On the other hand, I think it’s very likely that we are now subjected, through television and movies, to more “disrespectfulness” than at any other time in history.
Many seem to believe that our world is exactly like it was meant to be. They think we are learning essential lessons by challenging those who do not think/believe what they do. Is it essential to be disrespectful to those who are of a different religion, political party, country and/or social group in order for our world to be exactly like it was meant to be? I don’t think so!
I remember many times in my life when I was disrespectful to others and had no good reason for doing so. When I was in my teens, I was disrespectful to people who weren’t Catholics. Having been raised Catholic and frankly, not knowing more than ten people who weren’t Catholic, I respected others, including myself, who were disrespectful to non-Catholics. As a child, I was taught that the Catholic religion was the one true religion and all others were not to be respected. Of course, this thinking was done through the mind of a very young person. As I matured, that thinking changed. But, I think this personal example illustrates how, as a young person, I was respecting those that were disrespectful.
Should we respect those that are disrespectful? Historically, have we humans been as disrespectful to other humans as we are now? Yes, and I think we have been much worse. The difference between now and the distant past, is we aren’t as brutal as we used to be. At least, from my point of view, here in the middle of the United States, we are not close to being as extreme with our disrespectfulness.
For a historical perspective, consider how the Romans entertained themselves by watching animals eat live humans. Consider a man named Simon who, in the year 1345, said that England’s Edward had more right to the crown of France than Phillip. Simon was immediately executed in a most brutal manner – he was dismembered, first the limbs and then the head. During the time Shakespeare was writing his plays, it wasn’t unusual for people’s heads to be stuffed on pikes and displayed for all to see in order to keep the general public in line. Though these are extreme examples, they do illustrate that historically, some humans seemed to respect being disrespectful to others.
Are we as disrespectful as we used to be? I think we aren’t as cruel/disrespectful, physically, but we are much more in our communication. You see, when we compare past generations with the present, we can easily see how much easier it is to communicate today. With the advent of the internet, television, radio, phone technology, social media, etc., we are now able to express are disrespect easier and faster to more and more people.
Today’s technology makes it easier for us to communicate in a disrespectful manner – much easier than when we didn’t have the speed and ease that it provides. Perhaps, the fact that it is easier to be disrespectful through communication is a good thing. How? Well it could be good in that it allows us to “vent” our negative feelings and therefore, instead of physical cruelty, we “only” use verbal cruelty. This is the only possible “good” I can imagine. :-(
Do we, as a society, respect disrespect? Well, we used to and it was naturally wired in us to do so. You see, when we were more primitive and had to fight each other for a piece of food or territory, we were disrespectful by “attacking” others out of fear that something would be taken from us. Should we still try to overcome each other in order to assure our survival or should we develop an entirely new way of dealing with each other? In today’s world, don’t we need each other in order to survive?
For us to successfully overcome the many problems humanity is facing, whether social, political or environmental, we need to work together in a respectful manner. Working against each other, in what is usually a disrespectful situation, may have been necessary for our ancestors, but is counterproductive now.