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ADONAI On August - 2 - 2011
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Senat...

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It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.

~Henry David Thoreau

 

Love, friendship and respect do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something.
~Anton Chekhov

 

 

 

I’d like to discuss something I find sorely lacking in this country today. Respect. In some places there is a severe lack of it, in others none at all, and some places have the wrong idea about just what respect is. So, to begin, let’s look first at the classical definition of  ‘respect’:

1. a particular, detail, or point (usually preceded by in ): to differ in some respect.
2. relation or reference: inquiries with respect to a route.
3.esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.

You can see from the definition, especially the use of the word “esteem”, that one might believe you respect people you like. Though this is the most common occurrence it is not the only way to lend respect to someone. Disagreements do not need to lead to disrespect. It is not disrespectful to disagree with someone. It is highly disrespectful to believe you have a right to your ideals while someone else doesn’t have an equal right to theirs.

This manifests most often in politics. Politics is an almost universal thing. There are different types of governments all across the globe but you tend to see the same problems. And many of these problems seem to be exasperated by the lack of respect between the parties involved. so when one side does win the argument they can’t just leave it at that. We can’t just enjoy being right, we have to punish the other side for daring to be wrong or to challenge us.

Take the debt ceiling argument.  On more than one occasion,   the President and Harry Reid gave Republicans the fucking bone they’ve been begging for, and what happened? It wasn’t enough for many of them. They were given what they wanted and they STILL turned it down without  a thought. They have no respect. They can’t just “win”, they have to make sure the other side is punished.

Let’s look at a more personal example.  One that I’m sure pissed off more than a few people  across the country. Last month Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz took to the floor of the House to make her argument against the Republican economic plans and question her fellow Florida Congressman’s support of it. Here is what she said that became such a huge problem for her fellow Congressman:

The gentleman from Florida. who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries, unbelievable from a Member from South Florida,”

 

That’s it. One of the most benign, routine political statements ever uttered. I’m sure no one on in that building had a single problem with what she just said. Well, the Congressman in question, Allan West(I refuse to use Mr. as I believe he does not deserve the title), took MAJOR offense over these words and issued a ridiculous e-mail response to Mrs.Schultz’s office. It read in part:

“You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district! I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior……which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.

You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!”

 

?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Are you kidding me?! All she said was you are wrong on the economic bill and THIS is how you respond! Talk about a disproportionate response.  First of all Mrs. Schultz, if you’re reading this(Hey! I can hope!), allow me to volunteer my time to go to West’s office and tell him things he needs to hear TO HIS FACE.  Such uncouth arguing is beneath a lady of your refinement. Best leave that to scoundrels such as myself.  And this is obvious in Mrs. Schultz’s response. Which was basically no response. She didn’t get down in it, she rose above it. ‘Cause, even after all this, I bet Mrs. Schultz still repects the man enough to work with him even after he has shown he has no respect for her what so ever.  Coward?! What man verbally intimidates a woman through e-mail? But this is a taste of the vile disrespect coursing through the veins of most Republicans. Boehner and Cantor are fools but they’re not this stupid.   Fellas, get your people under control. This is Congress. You don’t act like the regular guy on the street. A higher standard people. A HIGHER standard.

 

And if this weak, Milquetoast statement made you that angry, maybe you should leave politics. It gets much, MUCH worse. And this leads to my next point: People who confuse criticism with a lack of respect. This covers A LOT of people. How many terrible days begin with a simple critique taken the wrong way and escalated? I think we all know someone like this. Probably more than one person. It’s hard to deal with them. Most times you just don’t want to. Everyone fucks up. Everyone makes mistakes. Having this pointed out to you is not  a slight. Suggesting a different path is not an insult. It doesn’t mean you have been disrespected. In reality, the person probably would have never bothered to help you if they didn’t have a little respect for you. They might not like you but they may respect you as a fellow worker, student, or just a fellow human being.

And that last one is a sticking point for me.  Respect for a fellow human being.  This is something our species has struggled with since the dawn of civilization. Mostly because, for most of that time, white people considered themselves the only actual human beings. I once heard a Republican pundit on TV say he “respected gay  people and their ‘situation’ but,….”. Well, that’s good to hear. He respects their “situation”. And what situation would that be I wonder? Their sexual preference or the lack of human dignity shown to them by this country. But that’s part of most talks on gay rights. Disrespect and backhanded compliments. It’s a similar issue with immigrants, before that black people. And the genesis of these feelings is always the thought that they are somehow less of a human than the straight, white majority. Not that they are an example of the beautiful diversity of humanity but somehow a defect. They don’t deserve respect because they are not equal.

 

But you don’t HAVE to like someone to respect them. You don’t even have to agree with them. You just respect them as an individual, equal to you in every way. I don’t like internet trolls. And I know name calling can be a sign of disrespect. But I still respect them as people. Like the Tea Party. Sure it’s basically shown itself to be the intolerant, uninformed mob it is, but I respected their initiative. They have shown people that even a proportionally small group can make big noise on Capital Hill(did I use the wrong form of capitol? Or am I using words to say things?). I also respect them as my fellow citizens. Disagreements or not, they are only doing what any of us should do. This is what keeps our country going. The fact we can disagree, sometimes bitterly, but still pull together as one.

Presidents take more than their fair share of disrespect.  President Obama is no exception. From veiled suggestions that he may be a “Muslim sleeper agent” to blatant racist remarks and physical threats, I don’t believe even Clinton has had to put up with the bullshit this President has heard. But the man respects the job. And that is so key. He respects the office of the President of the United States. And, probably more than any President in some time, has treated the office with the respect it so deserves.

Now we can transition to respect for authority. Lost in what I’ve said so far is the fact that respect, for the most part, is earned. Respect for your fellow man and the planet you live on are pretty much standard but respect earned in life is hard won and easily lost. Much like freedom. People must respect your right to exist and be who you are.  Everything after that is negotiable. This is difficult when dealing with authority. Authority, by nature, exists to control. For better or for worse we are expected to submit to it. This is not the right way to approach it. The basic concept of authority is disrespectful. Man is not technically free. We do not have unquestioned sovereignty over our own existence.  At least, not if we want to remain a part of society. Authority tends to become remote and inconsistent.

Though it is debatable, I believe you are taught to conform and submit to authority your whole life. Never question your parents, your teachers, or any other person with authority. Never challenge the majority, always stay in the herd.  This is not the hallmark of a democracy but of  authoritarianism. Authoritarian governments have no respect for their office or the people they control. Parents and teachers should be encouraging their children to ask more questions. To never, NEVER just accept something.  No one respects a doormat. They just keep walking all over you. Just because a man with a badge told you something was wrong doesn’t mean it is. That piece of tin doesn’t make them your superior. But the police force has been co-opted. Once the greatest source of relief for so many in this country, police sirens are now met with fear and skepticism. And who can blame them?

Killers and thieves walk free but we made sure granny and her pot farm went down! Gangs are literally tearing cities apart but we gotta make sure Officer Smith meets his arrest quota so he can get that paycheck. And this is where you can’t really blame the police force. Our criminal justice system is becoming more and more for profit everyday. Police forces around the country see their pay shrink, their benefits and pensions disappear. So many districts have lowered the standards for being a police officer.  The good cops are overshadowed by the multitude of high school dropouts harassing a man for just walking down the fucking street in front of them. a friend of mine got pulled over recently for nothing. I know everyone says that but this guy is one of the most honest people I have ever met.

Anyways, he’s on his way home after work and two cop cars get behind him and flip the lights. TWO CARS! So, being the guy he is, he pulls over, gets his ID and registration ready, and waits for the officers to ask for them. They don’t. They ask him to get out of the car. Weird. so he says, “Can I ask why I was pulled over?” Lemme answer that, “Of course you can. It’s your right to know.”  But these officers said no. Also weird, and illegal. So there’s really no surprise about what happens next. Without telling him why he was pulled over or reading him any rights, they attempt to frisk him. When he stops them they threaten to arrest him for “resisting authority”. Not resisting arrest, “resiting authority”. He still had his chef’s jacket on but they ask him, “Where are you coming from?” If it were me I would have said Chef Boyardee Look a Like competition, but he says work, or course. See, he’s an honest guy. He expects the police to be at least as honest as him. At this point he still believes this is just what the police do.

So they tell him to roll his sleeves up. Now, dude LOVES his tattoos. Has  a full sleeve on one arm and getting pretty close on the other. I guess this told the cops he was  a drug addict because they started asking him about “track marks”.  You know, like what heroin addicts have. So after about 5 more minutes of hardcore fucking with him and not finding anything to arrest him for, they just let him go. But this is all par for the course in the city he lives in. Everyone knows it, no one denies it. The city government argues that he police do a great job keeping crime off the streets. Mostly because people are too fucking afraid to drive the streets. And the city doesn’t care.  Arrests equal money for many in office. Kentucky has one of the highest number of prisons in America. We incarcerate more people  than any state bordering us. EVEN TENNESSEE!! Mostly pot offenses but money is money and we stopped being human beings in their eyes long ago.

We think the police work for us because we pay for them. Well, we don’t sign the checks. We don’t decide how much is in that check. The city does. They work for the city and whatever crazy assholes are in charge. They exist to keep the status quo, which is also decided by the city. There is no respect for the police force and what it is, so naturally that will trickle down to you and me. So it makes it very difficult to respect their authority when you realize who vested it in them. And it’s hard to respect your duty when others constantly make you feel insignificant.   Honestly, the police are in a no win situation and that isn’t right.

So what am I really trying to say? I guess I’m just saying we need to focus more on respect. Respect not just for people but for the process. For life and basic fucking dignity. You ain’t gotta wake up tomorrow and start liking everyone and everything. Just respect their right to be there. Respect disagreement. Respect the fact we aren’t all the same. And,most of all, respect for yourself. You are worthy.  You are good enough. Your opinions matter and your thoughts are valid. And you don’t need the rest of the world to agree to know that it’s true.

 

 

 

Written by ADONAI

For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.

40 Responses so far.

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  1. ADONAI says:

    jkk, I think some people take disagreements far, FAR too personally. Let’s step away from the realm of opinion for a moment.

    If you’re arguing with someone about something you already know is absolute fact, do you become aggravated or possibly even angry about their refusal to accept what appears to be the obvious truth?

    Lord knows I do. But then I realize that it doesn’t really matter. It’s enough that I know the truth and stand by it. It’s not my duty to guide them to the truth. Lasting ideals are the ones we think we came to on our own. The truth can be disguised, buried, and distorted, but never destroyed. It persists and we will all see it eventually.

  2. Adonai, please explain what you mean by the following;

    “We do not have unquestioned sovereignty over our own existence.”

    • ADONAI says:

      You can’t do whatever you want whenever you want without question or consequence in a society. You do not have full ownership of your own existence. You are bound by laws and regulations that we all agree to follow. We exchange a certain amount of freedom for protection and comfort.

      • You are talking about the social contract, a theory of society devised by John Locke. Sure you can go to jail for committing crimes, but that in no way means I don’t have autonomy over my own existence. I choose to honor the social contract because it is the sensible and moral thing to do. But even a prisoner still exists. He may not be able to do as he chooses, but he still exists, he is still the decider of whether he lives or dies, unless he is in a state which has capital punishment.

        • ADONAI says:

          I’m not talking about control over life and death so much as the little things.

          If I can’t do something without facing someone else’s arbitrary punishment, I do not have full control over my existence.

          And that’s really at the heart of the Social Contract. Whether we willingly turn it over or not, we do give a bit of ourselves to thwe whole.

          I won’t get into whether it’s a moral thing or not, it’s just how it is. Long before any of us were ever born.

          Not being able to do as we choose is the very definition of a lack of freedom. We use the abridged version of freedom in society. That old saying:

          “Laws do not exist to bind you but to let you know how free you are.” That doesn’t make any sense. Freedom doesn’t have levels. Anything less than absolute freedom is not really freedom, and no amount of books on the subject will change that.

          • You may not have full control over your behavior, as it is restricted by laws written and unwritten, but you still have control over your existence.
            I know what you are trying to say, but I’m being precise (maybe too much so) about the word existence. Interpreting it as “being.”

            “Laws do not exist to bind you but to let you know how free you are.” Who said that? Not me. And there are degrees of freedom. Anybody who has ever been homeless will tell you that. Homelessness is about as close as one can get to complete freedom, if the legal system did not exist, it would be complete freedom. But that is far from being desirable. It is a brutal form of freedom.
            The social contract is not completely forced. Sure there are laws, but when a person complies with the social contract, certain things are “willingly,” given up.

            • Adonai, I’m sure you enjoy society, or you wouldn’t come to this site. Yeah, the more choices one has, the more free they are. There are many types of freedom though. I do agree with the proverb, in the sense that without laws we would have anarchy and nobody would be safe. Most laws concern some sort of safety or protection.

            • ADONAI says:

              “Laws do not exist to bind you but to let you know how free you are.” It’s an old Japanese proverb.

              It basically means laws do not exist to restrict you but to allow you to live as one in peace.

              Life is brutal. In society or outside it. The only difference is how many choices you actually have. And it really is a vague philosophical thing. Trust me, I enjoy society. It allows me to indulge my excesses.

  3. There are people I do not respect. I do not respect liars and thieves. I do not respect racists and homophobes. I do not respect excessively greedy people and those who lust for power over others. I do not respect those who encourage hatred.
    I cannot respect someone simply because they are the same species as I am. I can civil towards those people, but respect them? I don’t think so. I think civility and respect are two different things entirely.
    Respect, in the sense that it applies to others, I use this part of the definition; “3.esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person.”
    I try to stay away from those I don’t respect. And if I can’t manage that, I can only be civil.

    • ADONAI says:

      You hate them, yes? I do too. But I respect their right to exist. I respect their right to carry their own asinine opinion around.

      Respect does not equal like.

      • No, I don’t hate them. I just consider them wrong and by no means admirable. They can always change. Wisdom does not come to all of us at the same time. We gather wisdom as we live and we all are of different ages and places. It seems that some people never learn, and that may be the case in a relative few, but I don’t think it’s a large percentage of humanity.
        I didn’t say that respect equals liking someone. There are people whom I have not liked, but still had respect for them. Just because a person has a natural right to exist does not mean I must respect them. I would not seek to take away that right. But that is respecting the right, not the person.

        • ADONAI says:

          Yeah that’s what I mean. Respect for their right to exist and have a stupid opinion.

          • jkkFL says:

            ADONAI- I’m gonna have to do better on that one, because FL is being Slammed with AFP and Crossroads GPS crap.. (not yet on YT- will post the one that IRKS me when it is. Breitbart-type stuff.)

            • choicelady says:

              jkk -- that’s horrid, and precisely the problem with Citizens United.

              NO you don’t have to respect the actions of liars! What respect is given to others as human beings does NOT extend to their deeds. Call it OUT!

              (I just did not understand any of the acronyms. I’m seriously challenged that way!)

              Good luck!

            • jkkFL says:

              @c’lady- FL is being slammed with commercials from Americans For Prosperity, and Crossroads GPS- which are outright lies. The most egregious one is a doctored clip of Obama “saying’ ‘we have to settle this debt crisis before the election”. They skillfully blended two totally different comments.
              ( I keep cking YT to see if they’re online yet.)
              “But I respect their right to exist. I respect their right to carry their own asinine opinion around.”
              That is the issue I can’t work out.. do I have to respect lies and slander, because the people using them have the ‘right’ to?

            • choicelady says:

              OK -- I managed to read that and not understand one thing. Yikes.

          • I agree. Though I do dislike stupidity. Ignorance is one thing, but stupidity, especially if it comes from willful ignorance is hard to accept. Just look at the Baggers. 😉

    • jkkFL says:

      ooops- that struck a nerve, KT!
      I think I am much the same way..but I admit, I use avoidance a lot, as well.

      • I think sometimes civility is enough. When dealing with those I don’t respect, I am willing to fulfill my part of the social contract by treating them civilly, but I don’t have to respect them.

        • choicelady says:

          KT -- that is all that IS required. That these days is HUGE.

          • Thanks CL, but even civility is not required. It is optional. But I try to maintain civility for spiritual reasons, not because it should be required.
            Believe me, it is not so easy at times. Sometimes it’s a real effort. But I do believe there is divinity in all of us, but with some it is buried really deep under ignorance and negative emotions. 😉

  4. jkkFL says:

    Awesome ADONAI.
    All this post needs is Aretha singing in the background!
    Thanks especially for touching on the problems of Law Enforcement. My nephew is one of the good guys- and as in every other way of life; the good guys are never noticed, only judged by the poor decisions of others. But, if you need an officer, Matt is the one you want to respond.
    He’s the one who will see three young kids walking at 9PM; much too young to be out in that neighborhood.. kids who hated cops, and ran when he approached.
    Being a father- he gradually won their trust, pulled some teddy bears out of his trunk; and notified DCF, after explaining to the oldest girl (about 10) that she needed help taking care of her brothers. (Mom had been gone for a ‘few days’, and she was trying to find them something to eat.)
    A few McDs later they were taken to shelter.
    He received a commendation, and award and didn’t tell a soul.
    He was ‘just doin’ his job..’

    • choicelady says:

      My best friend was a cop outside of Chicago. He would be identical in actions to Matt. His entire life was grounded in respect for those around him including perps even when their deeds were utterly disreputable. He treated people civilly, was kind beyond measure, and respected all rights. He could see NO reason why a lawbreaker could not be handled with due process. He took care of so many of us around him and was also the funniest person I ever met. He died 18 months ago, far too young, of cancer. The hole his death left in the fabric of life has yet to be mended. If you see Matt, give him a hug for me in honor of his brother officer Dave, the greatest guy I ever knew.

      • jkkFL says:

        Oh c’lady, I am so sorry. It hurts more, I think when they are young.
        Matt has had 2 close friends killed in the line of duty- one was his Sgt’s son.
        At his funeral, she signed him 1042- and I cried like a baby, 1,000 miles away..(it was streamed online.)
        His name was also David.
        Count on that hug being delivered..

        • choicelady says:

          Thank you, and thanks to all the GOOD people who serve us and do it so well.

          I’m so sorry these young people had to give their lives. Too many people think they have the right to blow other people away. Enough with the tears due to someone else’s rage and stupidity.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Great story, jkk. Thanks for sharing Matt with us!

    • The motto “To Protect and To Serve,” really defines the true function of police. But of course, many do not live up to that standard. Then again, many do. And then there are people with an abject hatred for the police, just because they ARE police officers. That is wrong. That is a form of automatic disrespect, which is close to being of the same quality as automatic respect.

  5. whatsthatsound says:

    NIcely stated, sir! I agree and feel the same way.
    If any of us is ever in a traffic accident and our life depends on the quick and skillful work of a doctor, we are not going to care if the doctor is a Muslim, an atheist, a homosexual, a porn addict, a Republican (gasp!) or any other thing we might personally have a distaste for. In that moment, that person, who perhaps in another circumstance we would only want to argue with, becomes the most important human being in the world to us.

    You never know WHO might save your life someday. So respect all.


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