Comedian Bob Newhart once said, “I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means ‘put down’.”
Funny, right? Depends on your perspective. In our over-the-top politically correct world, public discourse is anything but a joke.
Something seems to be missing. Civility? Common courtesy? Dignity? Good manners? Honor?
Someone posterized the idea of respect this way:
“Treat people the way you want to be treated.
Talk to people the way you want to be talked to.
Respect is earned, not given.”
Okay … this isn’t new. Check out Matthew 7:12. It’s been called the Golden Rule. I’m not certain I agree with the last line, though. I wasn’t brought up that way. I think you start with respect, not end with it. Paul wrote that wives should respect their husbands; he didn’t say that husbands always deserve respect (Ephesians 5:33).
These days you could substitute a number of things for Newhart’s dig at country music fans. It’s easy to show disrespect in our world. We can always find someone to look down on. Or, we could choose another path.
Too quixotic? I don’t have the power or influence to change the world, but I do have the power and influence to affect my world. I don’t have to yield to my baser instincts to pre-judge others. I could begin with a page that is blank except for the word “respect” that I could hand to every person I meet. It would require an attitude that starts with this simple truth: I will never meet a person whom God doesn’t love.
On this weekend, it somehow seems appropriate to honor the highest values we can name, to be truly thankful for those who have paid dearly for our freedom, to leverage that freedom in impacting our world with something other than self-service and absorption.
I believe I can respect that.