Respect. A word that is fought for or attempted to be reclaimed when lost. It crosses a line which each of us has where dishonor begins and loss of human value. Many times it can be overcome brushed aside, but disrespectfulness can add up, crossing even into attacking human dignity. Some people allow external factors or negative thoughts to trump over knowledge of their own human worth with the worse of cases ending in suicide. Media and the arts set the standard for our culture for communication, dress, and interactions with one another. It is important to have our personal boundaries established of what is acceptable for ourselves and what isn’t.
Basic respect appears to be lost with the majority of the population. Why is this? Maybe because we are busy and self-absorbed with our life more than others? Being much busier may not really be as much the case, but rather that our latest electronic device is more interesting than spending quality time with the people around us. Electronic communication provides a newfound security as people become increasingly more timid interacting with others directly, but bolder in what they have to say with indirect interactions online. Intimacy is reached quicker, all while hiding behind the ‘safety’ of an electronic device. A watered-down value of the other person is left as respect is screened out. It is about what “I have to say” and less about how I am making you feel and do I even care because within seconds there is the next post on the timeline to read, the next text message to respond to, and the next phone call to take which is more important than the person in front of you.
Respect is also lost because the majority of modern media and reality TV shows are influencing us with a lesser standard of respect. Themes revolve on what shocks, what is intimate, and what is revealed. We find what is gross, insulting, and negative as funny. Even everyday purchases such as birthday cards are centered on less than desirable subjects with bathroom humor as topics. The language which is used in media, the arts, and material goods which we buy all set the example of how we communicate. If the grossness, the insults, and the negativity is not rejected, this lesser quality is what our culture sets as the acceptable standard of disrespectfulness.
Purchases which might impact the respect of our culture extend to the fashion industry as well. Clothes made of sheer and revealing material are easy to shop for while more respectful or gender specific clothing are harder to find on the rack. Would men respect women differently if they wore appropriate skirts more than jeans or pants? Considering what we wear everyday might make a difference. While dressing for comfort is standard for our culture and even in many work environments, how does this cause our presentation overall to slide. There is a greater respect for others and formality in our speech which results from dressing up and caring a little more about your appearance.
This can also be seen in the arts. Historically people dressed up for cultured events and found meaning in performances. This naturally led to quality discussions as part of the enjoyment of the event. Our entertainment has changed in today’s culture to what satisfies quickly, with little meaning in the message, and media strictly viewed for amusement. It is nothing to dress up for and very little meaning impacts us as a result of the experience. It is simply a time to relax and laugh at disrespectfulness in many cases, desensitized to the rudeness instead of being bothered by it. When an event is found important and you dress up for it, the standard of respect found at the event and culture is usually higher. The effort which we put into anything can also create greater respect. Is it because we have quick fixes as we become a more efficient society and give less respect to things which must be worked for? Is it less attractive to pursue those things which have work involved when quick fixes exist? These are all points to think about at least.
If we all choose to be more respectful in how we speak, no matter what the circumstance, we can begin to change the culture of disrespect. Respect could become an art in itself to master. Have you listened to what you say when you talk to others? If you could play it back, would what you hear be statements of respect and kindness? There is something to be said for respectful phrases which have fallen away. We need to build people up, not tear them down. We need to respect boundaries which are set, not bulldoze over them thinking we can do whatever we please. Despite any differences we may have with others, people will respond better with respectful language and actions and the standard of respect in our culture can change as a result.
By practicing a greater degree of respect and kindness, we can be an influential element for a civilized culture resulting in quality relationships, positive energy, and greater happiness. It means guarding our speech and actions until we can make it habit. Civilized people who practice good etiquette always choose to be polite and respectful, give consideration to other people, and are positive.
Being respectful. That’s what’s in.
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