All We’re Asking, is for a Little Respect

I had a coworker once who told me of an experience she had while working at a tourist venue during a special event.  Her job was to stand at the front door and direct people to where they needed to be.  She was also responsible for keeping the front area clear as many would loiter while waiting for friends and family, causing a bit of a congestion problem.  At one point, a large group entered the building and chose to wait for the rest of their group near the front entrance.  My coworker, as was her responsibility, politely asked the group to move to the back where there was more room to wait.  The group leader nodded but did nothing to obey her request.  She asked twice more and still nothing happened.  Eventually one of the managers of the venue approached her and asked why the group hadn’t moved.  My coworker explained that she had asked them to move three times, but they refused to do so.  Her manager nodded.

“I see,” she said, placing her hands one her hips.  Without another word to my coworker, the manager approached the group and told them the exact same thing my coworker had just moments before.  Immediately the entire group moved to where she directed with no argument.

My coworker was dumbfounded.  “Why didn’t they move when I asked them?” she wondered.

Her manager gave an irritated smile.  “It’s because you’re young and I’m old.  They take me more seriously.”

This story, though simple, showcases a big problem in our society.  We lack respect for each other.  Often this lack of respect comes from a place of prejudice, whether that be based on race, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, age, or disability.  Some people live in fear of such prejudice, as at times it may lead to violence.  What a difference it would make if, despite our differences, we could at least respect each other as human beings who are all simply doing our best to get by.

I have heard the saying “respect is to be earned” hundreds of times in my life.  While I agree with the idea that a leader must earn the respect of their people, I also believe that respect for humanity should be freely bestowed.  As soon as respect for our fellow beings is treated as a precious privilege given only to a select few, the door to violence and abuse is made wide open.  There are different levels of respect.  The most basic level, that of respecting an individual as a human being who has a right to their own opinions and beliefs without being seen as lesser than, is a level of respect all of our fellow beings are entitled to. 

Our hearts go out to all those who are being affected by a lack of respect right now.  From those who have been on the receiving end of prejudice actions or comments, to those who have suffered from police brutality, to those police officers and their families who harbor no such prejudices yet are still being targeted and threatened.  We don’t have to all agree on everything, but one thing we should agree on is showing respect to each other, regardless of differences.  May you all take opportunity this week to show your respect and love for your fellow human beings.  How much better this world would be if we all valued such attributes a little bit more.