From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this post – “We don’t need to have the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.” (Taylor Swift)
Jack went on to also write – “Is anyone teaching manners these days? I’ve read that how people treat others reveals how they feel about themselves. How are you feeling today? I like Taylor’s comment on the importance of being respectful. 😉 Jack
Aretha Franklin had a hit song about RESPECT and the Staple Singers had a hit called Respect Yourself. I suspect that what Jack was saying starts with the second song and then deals with the first one. You can’t respect others if you don’t respect yourself. Showing disrespect and contempt for the opinions of others is just inviting them to return the favor about your position on things.
In the current loud and fractious political environment in the United States, respect and good behavior seemed to have been trampled under the heavy boots of partisan politics. As the gulf has widened between the major political groups, they have lost the ability to even hear the other’s side of the story, much less respect the differences. Both sides seem to have reached the “my way or the highway” position on their opinions and disdain has replaced disrespect in the conversations. In fact the conversations themselves have devolved into shouting matches.
One doesn’t have to look far below the surface of the shouting and apparent anger to see that the root cause – fear. The hints are actually in the phrases that are used on both sides, like “take back our country” on one side and “continue the fight for social, racial and economic justice” on the other. One side fears that “those people” are taking things away from us; while the other side fears that “those people” are preventing us from having equal opportunity. Both sides fear the other and see the other side’s success as taking something away from their side. Both sides view the world as a zero-sum game in which the outcome must be a winner and a loser. The position taken by both sides is “I’m right and you’re wrong”. There is no respect in this game.
There has always been a difference of opinion and approach to matters between the so-called conservative and liberal factions within government. In days long gone the crack that divided the two groups was just that – a crack. It was a gap in thinking and approach to government that could be easily bridged or crossed. There were many politicians on both sides who crossed back and forth on issues, based on what they perceived to be for the good of the county. Due in many ways to the recent (relatively speaking) focus on social issues by our politicians, that crack or gap has now widened into a chasm which politicians on either side find to be too politically dangerous to cross. So they stand on each side of the divide hurling insults at each other across the chasm. No attempt is even made to build bridges between the opposing ideologies. They totally lack respect for each other.
There is little hope that the strident politicians that occupy the banks of the current political chasm will find a way to bridge that gap. In fact, they do not see any political advantage to trying to build that bridge. They find comfort in joining in on the shouting from their side of the chasm and encouraging even more strident views. They have become “US” and they have no respect for “THEM”.
What is the solution? Perhaps it is not to try to bridge the chasm, but rather to jump into it and build a new, third party from the bottom of that pit that can represent a way of governing without such rancor. There are many historic precedents in international politics for the creation of more moderate and centrist political parties. Instead of standing on the sides of the chasm and yelling that “government is too big” or “government is not doing enough”; perhaps this new party could focus more on what government can do to better serve the people that it governs. Instead of being focused upon the “haves” and the “have-nots”, this new party could focus on the needs. Maybe we do need to spend more time and money fixing what needs fixing here at home, but we must always be concerned about the wrongs that are occurring elsewhere in the world and helping where we can to make them right. This new party could start by showing respect to the people and the real problems at hand.
Rather than fighting a rear-guard battle against change to the world as we knew it; maybe we need to embrace a new world and a new political party that is more diverse in every way than has been the case in the past. We can’t go back; but, we can do better going forward. Let’s show some respect for the real issues and the solutions. It’s just a thought.
In the meantime, maybe we can all go back to kindergarten and re-learn what they tried to teach us there about RESPECT.