Respect is defined as “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.” It’s being considerate, thoughtful, attentive, polite, and civil. Without it, relationships will be bogged down in struggle and disappointment. If we don’t regard others, they will not respect us.
Respect is basic to have a sense of security, to have the option to communicate – unafraid of being judged, embarrassed or even oppressed.
The great philosopher Taylor Swift once quipped “we don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.” Hear what she’s saying: we don’t have to AGREE, but we should show RESPECT.
This is applicable to so many areas in life, but as we begin to fully emerge from the COVID restrictions and reengage in society in more meaningful ways (as we get back to normal), respect is – and will be – key in that process.
Showing respect is slowly becoming a lost practice – but demanding it seems to be an increasing expectation. We are seemingly becoming more and more self-centered and unsympathetic to those around us. As a result, we have little to no regard for other people’s opinions and perspectives. The number of people who act in politeness, thoughtfulness, and civility is rapidly declining. At the same time, disrespectful behavior is seemingly on the rise.
Why is that person STILL wearing a mask? Why did that person NEVER wear a mask? Why won’t he get vaccinated? Why would anyone get vaccinated? Why won’t government leaders do more? Haven’t government leaders done too much? Can we just get back to life as we knew it before this all started? How are people comfortable going out again since this all started? These are all fair questions to ask – though the responses will vary based upon your perspective and your experiences.
I encourage you to keep those terms foremost in your mind as well: “your perspective” and “your experience.” Your perspective is shaped by so many things that others cannot possibly understand or comprehend. Just like my perspective is. Perhaps you had someone close to you pass away or get very sick from COVID. That’s a huge influence in how you will react personally. Perhaps your neighbor, coworker, or friend hasn’t had that close, personal experience to influence their perspective. Does the fact that your views don’t align make one of you wrong? I would suggest that, perhaps, you are ignorant to the other person’s perspective – to their experiences – but it doesn’t make anyone wrong.
I would venture to say just about everyone has felt, to some degree, either unheard or maybe even attacked for simply having an opinion – a perspective – in today’s current culture as it relates to the virus. Making an assumption about someone because of a choice that they’ve made, something they wear (or don’t wear), or how they behave in this “post-pandemic” world is short-sided. Don’t get me wrong: there are people who choose to be ignorant. There are those that choose to operate in an echo chamber that only supports their one-sided opinions. But thrusting that upon others, without understanding their experience, is arrogant and, quite frankly, unhelpful. That’s true for whatever “side” you may be on.
The old adage “if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all” might be a good motto to live by as we reemerge this summer. Because, until you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of the person still wearing a mask, or sat in the seat of someone who never has, what is the value in sharing your opinion anyways? It is true that some things are better left unsaid.
My hope is that people can find peace in whatever their personal decision may be as to receive or not receive a vaccination – or to continue to wear a mask or set it aside once and for all. My greater hope is that people are able to accept whatever personal decisions others make as well.
Be kind. Be respectful. Remember that your perspective is simply that: yours.
If Taylor Swift isn’t your jam, consider this from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “men are respectable, only as they respect.” Showing respect makes you more respectable – and it costs you nothing.
Michigan Legislative Consultants is a bipartisan lobbying firm based in Lansing, Michigan. Our team of lobbyists and procurement specialists provide a wide range of services for some of the most respected companies in America. For more on MLC, visit www.mlcmi.com or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.