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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

white globe - Loving Simple LivingI’ve been thinking and learning a bunch about this idea over the last few weeks. …and working on this post for a few weeks… sorry for the delay.

Currently we are doing some training for living and working in a cross-cultural setting. The training is in Thailand because it is much cheaper than in America (and the weather is definitely a perk).

The training isn’t specifically about ‘respect’ but it is the idea that keeps popping out at me and what I keep thinking about.

Respect is something I have always valued but I haven’t seen how much my ideas about life weren’t in line with this value.

I think it is easy to loose respect for others when they are different from me.

I have been processing and thinking about how my culture, my country and my religion often seem to be disrespectful of others.

I’m not trying to make generalities or say that everyone is like this.  I’m not saying anyone is intending to be disrespectful of others.  I am just seeing in my own thinking and in how I talk and live my life how I can fall into it sometime.

Really, this comes down to human nature. People all over the world can struggle to truely respect others.  For the most part, everyone looks at things differently and finds different ways to look down on the rest of the world.  This isn’t an excuse for me to do it and the realization that others see things in different ways helps me to have respect for them.

Culture:

Western/First World culture (located all over the world) has a lot of superiority issues.  Clearly, western society is more developed in technology, healthcare, organization, education, and other areas.  However, these can fall into an assumption that our cultures are superior.  But who defines the criteria for which culture is better?  To say we are better because of certain areas doesn’t mean our cultures are ‘better’.

Our culture is far from perfect and there is a lot we can learn from other cultures.  Where we can share things like technology or medicine, they can share with us many things as well.

Country:

I was born in Canada but became American a few years ago (to match citizenship with my darling family).  I have lived my adult live (since I was 17) in the US and there are many wonderful things about America.  … however, respect for the rest of the world isn’t usually one of them.

There seems a fear of showing weakness.  Wanting to look like we have everything figured out as a country.  Showing a perfect ‘face’.  Telling the rest of the world what they should be doing or how they should be acting in international relations.

But honestly, the US doesn’t have everything figured out… It seems like we could get much farther with a mindful or discerning student attitude instead of a ‘professor’ mentality.

Christianity:

This idea is probably closest to my heart and has been hardest for me to wrap my mind around.  The idea that Christianity is the ‘true’ religion, that everyone else would be better off if they became Christian, and the world would be a wonderful place if everyone was Christian… is kinda part of the underlying beliefs of the religion… whether they are verbalized or not.

The crazy thing is that many people all over the world believe the same thing… only about their religion.

It isn’t that I don’t believe my Christian beliefs, I do, but the perspective of ‘I’m right and everyone else is wrong and needs me to teach them’ is really… um… disrespectful.

There is a distinct possibility that the world doesn’t need the US to direct, fix, and help the rest of the world or else it will fall apart.  And there is a good possibility that my Christian religion would not bring peace to the world either… just saying… based on it’s history.

Why do we think we have all the answers in culture, government, and religion?  Is it really working (widespread) for us?  Why do we see ourselves as such qualified teachers?

The disrespectfulness of these ideas really hit me.

And this is what I am thinking about over these few weeks and trying to wrap my mind around.

I want to have a respect for all people – a love for all people.  Those who are like me and those who think differently.  I believe deeply that every person has value and makes decisions based on information and situations surrounding them.  No one is perfect and I shouldn’t judge the value of someone else based on their imperfections.

I believe I don’t need to agree with people to respect them.  However, respect and understanding is something I can give to others no matter who they are or what they think.

… so there’s my ‘piece’.  Thanks for reading! 

7 Comments

  1. sally sally

    Love this. To recognise the limitations of our own cultures, environments, social structures and (especially) religious beliefs is huge personal growth, I think.

    I know I have to work on this too. I am an atheist an I tend to think the world would be better if we all were (just like people of religion often believe about their religion) – and I have to watch my tendency to judge others on their beliefs. I really like the openness of the Buddhist approach, it works on recognising that each person has their own, valid, perspectives.

    I think “respect” is something we could all work on. Thanks Lorilee!

  2. Kathy Quinn Kathy Quinn

    This post is so honest. We could all go a long way if we were more humble about our viewpoints. I belong to a 12 step group… one of the rules is we are not allowed to refer to our specific religion. So we must use the words “Higher Power” It frees us up to be more honest about love and I have found a deeper spirituality which I have brought back to my Christianity. I am also not so sure about the whole tenet that says we are the only way. I suspect there are many paths to God

  3. Nancy Nancy

    Hi Lorilee,
    Your openness and honesty is refreshing. You certainly are challenging your thinking and beliefs. Your posts are challenging me as well and really get me thinking about my own beliefs.

    No human ideology has ever brought peace or saved anyone. To say I’m right and everyone else is wrong, implying that “they need Me” is really arrogant and disrespectful. Selfish pride is so deceptive. How would our advantages make us superior? ….instead wouldn’t they make us more responsible to share with those we value, love and respect?

  4. I lived “surrounded”by different religions and have to say that in the name of Christianity most harm was/is done compaired to other beliefs.I think that we don`t need any so called religion,but we do need to believe in the One and Only G-d and have a personal relationship with him,that we know what He wants from us on this earth ,and that our actions and life are accordingly to His word.Even the Atheists I know in Israel do keep laws from the bible,maybe because they are afraid in their hearts that G-d really exists….

  5. Clare Clare

    Lorilee, your honesty in your reflections is wonderful and I so totally relate. I struggle with that aspect of Christianity for the same reason. It doesn’t change my belief in God or in the teaching of Jesus, but it does change how I relate to others in the world. Jesus showed nothing but love and respect for those that were different and rather than getting bogged down in verses, that are so often taken out of context, I much prefer to try and be a Jesus-kind-of-person. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing these reflections with us, and I agree wholeheartedly that respecting others is something we would all benefit from doing a bit more of, as you say, regardless of religion, country or culture (I’m from New Zealand, not the US, but we have similar issues being a first world country and all!) :)
    p.s. I am LOVING your book :)

  6. Hi there. Good post and good reflections. It is so cruzial that we learn to respect each other – also in the most personal matters like religion. It can take a while to learn to differentiate between “respecting” someone and “agreeing” with someone. Thanks for sharing :)

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