Start the New Year out respectfully:
1. Be intentional about letting others know you value them.
2. Act respectfully. Respect is something done as opposed to possessed.
3. Be attentive. Respect begins with listening well, not planning what you’ll say next.
4. Surprise people with your politeness. It might be contagious.
5. Breathe. Exercise patience and calm in tense situations.
6. Confront biases. Recognize and eliminate biases that inhibit your ability to give respect.
7. Model respect for the children in your life by how you treat others—the salesclerk, the person who cuts you off in traffic. Kids are watching (and listening to) you.
8. Introduce children (and yourself) to different people, experiences. Watch for ways to broaden their worldview.
9. Practice respect and reverence for all creatures and creation.
10. Lead with grace. Forgive often, speak and show love abundantly.
Here at the beginning of the third millennium, it seems as if we're increasingly like comedian Rodney Dangerfield — we get "no respect ... no respect at all!" But followers of Jesus Christ are told to do better and expect more of themselves and the people who share the same church, neighborhood, country — and planet.
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At first glance the slings and arrows of disrespect seem more prevalent today due to technology. When did you last wage a complaint using the post office as your delivery system? You likely advertised your disgust with a product or service—even a particular person—via e-mail or on a Web site.
But maybe technology isn’t to blame for hurtling us past some “Golden Age of Nice.” Perhaps we just have the ability to fling those slings and arrows faster, further, easier. In the old days, my disgust might have melted away by the time I wrote—and found a stamp. Now I can sit down at my computer, write a few lines, sign (or not sign) my name and click send. Done.
But new technologies have also brought disrespect to a new, even deadly, level—especially to and among young people. We’re way beyond beating up someone for their lunch money or starting a rumor about someone’s questionable morals. Stalking and cyberbullying not only hurt feelings (often anonymously), they’ve ruined reputations and even ended lives. Such harassment wasn’t possible in our history.
At the same time, the ability to communicate respect and find community beyond our city limits have never been easier. Have you or someone you know found a long-lost family member or classmate using Facebook or Google? Does a cell phone enable you to keep closer tabs on your children or visit more frequently (and cheaply) with friends? And although a hastily written e-mail thanking someone for last night’s dinner might be frowned on by Miss Manners, it might still be better than not doing it at all—because you couldn’t find a stamp.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers