Every time someone calls the President “Obama” like they went to high school with him (and didn’t like him then, either), I wince.
I’m not surprised ~ the mainstream media do it all the time, speak of the President (and most everything and everyone else) with this fundamental lack of respect. Because they do and because we as a culture take our standards for acceptable behavior from them, we do it, too.
Unfortunately, the discourtesy and disrespect doesn’t only flow outwards. Refusing, even unconsciously, to accord others the simple respect of their office or accomplishments or even just because they are thinking, feeling human beings just like you, quietly but inexorably erodes your own respect for yourself.
Like love, courtesy and respect are not diminished by you giving them away, regardless of the perceived worthiness of the recipient. Like love, the more courtesy and respect you give to others, the more you have within and for yourself.
It would be nice if we all had a Dumbledore, wouldn’t it? The headmaster who insisted that young Harry refer to Professor Snape by his title instead of just his surname.
I didn’t think much about it at the time, but now ~ in a time when, on a daily basis, I see increasing evidence of the ease with which people dismiss others as somehow less worthy, less valuable ~ it occurs to me that the headmaster insisted on that measure of respect from Harry not for Professor Snape, who was usually not present for these conversations, but for Harry himself, to preserve Harry’s self respect.
It wouldn’t be the first instance of art imitating life, nor the last instance, one hopes, of art being instructive in a positive way. The instruction, again by example, is to treat others with courtesy and respect, even when they aren’t present, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to assume others have the same feelings and sensibilities that you do and treat them with the same consideration.
It isn’t a new concept, respect for oneself and others ~ because it really does flow both ways. Indeed, it is a concept that reaches back into antiquity, a foundational precept in every culture: the ethic of reciprocity.
In western cultures, it’s most commonly known as: The Golden Rule
I’m hoping the concept enjoys a renaissance.
See you on the green ~