For over a week now Facebook posts have been arguing about the NFL players controversy regarding standing for the Flag/National Anthem or bending the knee. The word that I keep hearing is respect. The dictionary definition of respect is:
1. A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something
2. A particular aspect, point or denial
How do you define respect? I would venture to guess that most of us use definition number one when we think of using this word.
When I work with families, the parents typically complain that their children lack respect. It is often said that to get respect you must give respect. Some parents think that when their children roll their eyes they are being disrespectful. They should not roll their eyes when their parents ask them to do something. I was pretty happy when my children did what I asked - I really didn't care if they rolled their eyes. What is the best way to teach respect? Modeling behavior is still the best way to teach children, adolescents and even adults.
But what happens when you do not particularly like a person or what they do yet their position is one that you would usually respect? If that person doesn't respect me, must I respect him/her or can I give the position or office respect without giving the person respect? Kind of confusing, right? My value system and belief is that I will give respect where I believe it should go whether or not that person gives me respect. This can be difficult since I will also not give up my beliefs or allow myself to be harassed or maligned because I have a differing opinion. This being said, I find it interesting that the president of our country is demanding respect from groups of people when this something that he has not given to many. He has disrespected women, minorities, the marginalized and even the military. He has called many people names and has maligned their character yet he demands that all respect his beliefs and opinions.
So why is bending the knee disrespectful? Many years ago a suitor would bend his knee when asking for a hand in marriage. People in the UK still bend the knee for the Queen of England. When you really want something do we not kneel and beg? Perhaps we should not focus on whether the players are actually being disrespectful but instead focus on what they are bending the knee for? This is a peaceful way of respectfully asking for attention to be brought for issues that are important for the nation as a whole. There is a need for racial equality in our country. There is a need for social justice in our country. This appears to me to be a peaceful and yes even respectful way to call attention to these issues.
I choose to see respect in different ways. In this case, I choose not to become angry but instead will listen, research and educate myself as to the issues that are coming to our attention. I will work to see the different opinions and sides and will choose to continue to respect all opinions. By doing this I hope that I will model this behavior for others as well - even if I do not receive the same RESPECT.