Friday, May 04, 2007


Respect is something that comes back time and again in my life.

Yesterday, my mother's 80th birthday, which meant something to her. To her aging husband it meant things perhaps in moments, but Not when he felt "wronged" or otherwise not feeling any need to defer to her feelings. For her respect comes in moments countered with periods when she doesn't matter. This, of course, hurt her, though it is little different from how it's been over the 34 years they've been together.

When my partner and I have our difficulties communicating nearly always each of us feels that the other isn't honoring and respecting the other. Not feeling heard and having one's words or feelings accepted as valid and important (in one's mind at least) is common in our relationships and our world in general.

Respect is accepting the other, whether an individual, a group, a nation, or whatever. Respect is not knowing what is best for the other. It is not knowing what the other should be feeling. It is not knowing what is best for the other.

Respect for others comes out of groundedness and respect for oneself. When I (or We) feel deep pain and hurt inside we can not respect ourselves. When we can't live comfortably within ourselves, it is doubly hard to support others. Being able to escape the "me, me, me" feeling of neediness isn't always easy for us as individuals or groups or countries we are a part of. The religious dogmas which tell us: "you are better than all the others" can feed zenophobia and hatred among people who feel attacked. Economic inequalities and often related political exploitation fuels dissonance among those who "succeed" and those who are put down.

Among those who are a "minority" or feel that way respect among their fellow group members is often very important to cope with the dominant culture. Nearly all, if not all of us feel like we are a "minority" in some parts of our lives. When we don't see ourselves as a minority, we often don't feel a wholesome pride in our culture and being.

I hope naively perhaps that we will find better ways to respect each other in the future. IF we do we may deal with how we in the U.S. abuse children, women, Muslims and others perceived as Muslims, People of Color, Gays/Lesbians/Bi's/Transgendered Folks and many others.

It is hard for people to heal their hurts. We can say we are sorry. We can also work to change the systems that cause the hurts.


1 comment:

d said...

hi geo,
nice post.
thanks for the reminder.