Respect

“Respect is an acknowledgement of the inherent worth and innate rights of the individual and the collective in society. The value of respect was cherished in the past, especially respect for youth, elders and moral values in a changing society. This is because it was assumed that elders were more knowledgeable and wiser than young persons. Respect was also given to elders as they comported themselves in manners worthy of emulation. Respect comes with honour and dignity as the individual or group of individuals are regarded as important personalities in their own rights.”

 With Mortimer Adler’s philosophical cautions about what is good and what is evil, “We cannot begin to analyze what moral values are without first having an understanding of what morality and moral education are. Morality is derived from the Latin word mores which means “manners” or “morals”. Morality is “an accepted code of human conduct in a society”. Morality entails “having [accepted patterns of behavior] that will regulate dealings of men who can choose to abide by these laws because they know it is good sense to do so”. Being moral or being morally conscious means adopting standards or principles to guide ones ‟actions and conduct in society”. Moral education is a “program of study which teaches the pupil about behaving in accordance with what is good while rejecting what is bad.” It is a holistic approach to stimulate character building and moral development.

Moral education should lead youths to develop from a stage of little understanding of moral principles, often characterized by pre-morality, to a stage where an individual is not forced to be moral [but] is personally convinced on standards that ought to guide his/her conduct in society. Moral values are taught in moral education as certain acceptable, valuable and cherished qualities that are worthwhile in developing a sound character. Values are codes of behavior “considered worthwhile, desirable, right and good and thus craved for and applied daily to enhance existence by the people”. Values determine people’s identity and cultural continuity. Moral values are essential values that determine individuals’ ‟perception of morality and moral consciousness in society.”

 “Moral values include truthfulness, patience, obedience, honesty, integrity, hard work, responsibility, respect, tolerance, loyalty, public spiritedness, freedom, respect for human life and dignity of persons. Others include justice, fairness and equality. Moral values are taught so as to be [internalized] by members of the society to enhance character development and promote good moral upbringing and moral health in individuals. “Moral health is manifested in individuals when a person becomes capable of understanding the principles of moral conduct and is committed to behaving morally in his dealings with others”. Principles of moral conduct can only be effectively understood and practiced when moral values are strongly adhered to by individuals in society. Societies cannot legislate ethics and morals but, can certainly legislate restrictions upon unethical and immoral behaviors.

 The most fundamental respect is “respect for human life and the dignity of all persons. Human life has always been sacred or sacrosanct [in human society]. Life has always been important and the dignity of persons has been pursued because the origin of life has been linked with “gods” or “deities”. Human belief in the ultimate power of “immortal gods” has caused men to have great respect for human life and regard persons with dignity. Traditional societies promoted the security of life because of their beliefs in its sacredness. Before life was taken, it had to be a necessary sacrifice after a series of interventions of the people for adequate cleansing.

 Traditional societies … believed in character development and functionalism of members and they pursued this cause with utmost sincerity. Most of their determination to pursue just causes arose from their religious beliefs in the supremacy of their “gods” and the punishment(s) that could arise as a result of their disobedience of these “gods”. In the words of modern social-scientists, “… the yardstick for measuring an educated man is his morals, manners, obedience to authority and respect for the customs, conventions, superstitions and laws of the land”.

American citizens expect that their personal human and Constitutional rights be respected, so too must they accept the responsibility to respect the rights of others.

 How has the decline of American mores effected how citizens respect both rights and responsibilities? Each of the core components and institutions of society discussed above, that are under attack in America are, at a fundamental level, dependent upon the mutual respect of her citizens.“Respect is important because it shows that one values another as an individual, and that he honors the personal rights and dignity of the person as a fellow human being. People who are disrespectful – even to the unrespectable – often have few friends and alliances, and others do not enjoy being near them.

 Because all of this [now] happens in the spotlight of the interconnected digital world, virtually everyone is cognizant of the disemboweled standards of behavior celebrated, or at least not condemned, in the 24-hour news cycle [and the continuous social-media cycle].

 What has come to be known as “political correctness” started with the reasonably defensible idea of discouraging gratuitous disrespect based on sex, race, or religion. Finding general acceptance for their initial attack on the racial insult considered most offensive to blacks, the advocates of the new political correctness expanded their campaign to include nearly any derogatory term that doesn’t refer to white men. But in the process of demonizing what has come to be called hate speech, the advocates of political correctness didn’t stop at just eliminating disrespect. Somehow the concept was distorted to equate a lack of positive respect with disrespect. No gradations or conditions were allowed. It was all or nothing. It was the “thought police”!

 Like medieval mathematicians trying to deny the concept of the number zero, the overzealous advocates of political correctness have sought to deny that a neutral position showing no disrespect nor unearned positive respect is entirely valid. But in mandating positive respect as a basic entitlement, [they have] compromised the core meaning and purpose of [something less than an absolute unconditional endorsement – known as] conditional respect as a tool of society.

It would hardly be appropriate use of society’s resources to attempt to address such issues as minor rudeness or neglected hygiene with the criminal justice system, and yet society needs some way to encourage preferred patterns of behavior. Conditional respect has always supplied that function. While it is entirely possible to live without the respect of one’s peers, the natural desire for respect does provide a potentially powerful non-coercive, nonviolent influence on most of us. Societies have always granted or withheld respect from individuals for real or perceived minor deviations as a way of encouraging compliance with mainstream society’s expectations.

Now, consider how political correctness has artificially distorted our concept of conditional respect. In the past, at least in theory, an individual earned the respect of his peers by his principles, behavior and accomplishments. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and there have always been distortions in society’s implementation of respect. Too often the concept of respect has been twisted into a function of hereditary titles, improperly acquired wealth, skin color, or other invalid criteria. On a superficial level that primarily highlights the aberrations of conditional respect, it’s an almost unavoidable step to wanting to force society to show respect for those it has previously and unfairly denied that respect. What is overlooked – in the emotionally attractive desire to share society’s “wealth” of respect in the same manner as we attempt to share material wealth – is that respect plays a far more complex role in society [than material wealth].

Gaining the respect and positive regard of those around us appears to be the natural desire of most people. We start out life seeking the approval of our parents. This need for approval is so strong that some schools of thought in child rearing hold that when properly managed it is sufficient to provide all needed control and motivation. While there is dissension on this point, it is generally agreed that the need for parental approval is a powerful influence in early life. As we grow up, the desire for the respect of our peers becomes for many an even more powerful influence on their views and behaviors. Much of the wasteful mortality of the teenage years results from misguided attempts to gain the respect of peers by pushing the limits of the rebellion that is such a hallmark of that period of life.

Man’s obsession with respect has always been a primary component of our exceptionally unhealthy attraction to warfare. The demand for respect at a national level is well documented as a primary cause of nations’ initiating war [along with self-defense]. However, while patriotic slogans and nationalistic pride may be effective in convincing otherwise rational individuals to put on a uniform and take up arms, these abstract concepts lose some of their focus in the terrible immediacy of combat. At the point where warm flesh meets cold steel, men fight more for the respect of their fellow soldiers than for their ideals. While it may have been belief in ideals that got them into the trenches in the first place, it is the fear of losing the respect of their fellow soldiers that provides the powerful motivation needed to convince those otherwise rational men to climb out of their relatively safe trenches, and charge headlong into the terrible carnage of the enemy’s machine-guns.

The desire for respect can be so powerful that those who have been denied the respect of mainstream society often turn to fear as a means of forcing at least the illusion of respect. One of the major attractions to gang culture is its promise to provide the appearance of respect to those unable or unwilling to earn real respect. Real or imagined offenses involving the arcane rituals of respect in the violent world of gangsterism are more often the cause for murder among gang members than financial issues. To gang members, even the shallow contrived illusion of respect that results from fear is preferable to the disrespect their failures earn them from society at large. [This type of forced respect is not so different from the artificial respect demanded by political correctness.]

Since our desire for respect is such a powerful influence, it’s hardly surprising that it has become both an integral factor in society and a focus of attention by those attempting to implement ever broader egalitarianism. Human societies tend to involve individuals interacting across a broad range of levels and purposes. We attempt to address the inappropriate aberrations at the extremes of the range through the sanctions offered by the criminal justice system. But a functional society also involves interactions at levels where individual events fall below the threshold for involvement of enforcement agencies, but which in large measure define the quality of life of the citizens.

With [civilization modernizing at a dizzying pace] came a lot of changes – both positively and negatively. One negative change that came with “the dawn of the post-war era” was [an increasing] moral decadence and laxity. Society has witnessed a fall in moral standards and an increased interest in pleasure and enjoyment as opposed to more serious things. Moral decadence has resulted in [disorderliness] at all levels in the society and its resultant effects are seen in a lackadaisical attitude toward [the dignity of] work; our readiness to lie, cheat and embezzle, lack of dignity and respect for human life and the monster of corruption.

 Values that are held and pursued today [especially by political and business leaders, and celebrities leading largely unexamined lives] include: dishonesty, disrespect, intolerance and lack of cooperation, exclusively-profit-oriented relationships, profanity of life and abuse of human dignity, loss of pride in hard work and an increased interest in the pursuit of injustice and other crimes; all in a bid to acquire wealth and/or power by adopting the philosophy that “the end justifies the means”. Modern societies are experiencing the wave of corruption driven by the “get rich [or powerful] quick syndrome”.

 Public goods and resources are audaciously stolen by individuals who are in positions of authority in a bid to acquire wealth for themselves and secure the future of their families, caring less about the pain and burdens to be borne by other members of the society as a consequence of their actions. Today, people take pride in telling lies and celebrating those that do likewise, engaging in ungodly practices and embellishment of various criminal acts. Integrity is lacking in the interactions of men with one another and flagrant abuse of the laws and of human rights is the order of the day.”

 For contrast; the students at the nation’s military academies live by a different code – called the “Honor Code”. It demands that students “… shall never lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate anyone who does.” How refreshing.

 Authority [it must be understood] is the legitimate or [widely] socially approved use of power. It is the legitimate power which one person or a group [exercises] over another. The element of legitimacy is vital to the notion of authority and is the main means by which authority is distinguished from the more general concept of power.

 Power can be exerted by the use of force or violence. Authority, by contrast, depends on the acceptance [respect] by [peers – as in “the People” or] subordinates of the rights of those above them [in an institution or position] to give them orders or directives. This [respect] is accomplished in a myriad of ways.”

 Sociologist “Max Weber divided legitimate authority into three types:

  • The first type discussed by Weber is Rational-legal authority. It is that form of authority which depends for its legitimacy on formal rules and established laws of the state, which are usually written down and are often very complex. The power of the rational legal authority is mentioned in the Constitution. Modern societies depend on legal-rational authority. Government officials wield this type of authority in most [modern] countries of the world. Bureaucracies are the result of this type of authority.
  • The second type of authority is Traditional authority, which derives from long-established customs, habits and social structures. When power passes from one generation to another, it is known as traditional authority. The right of hereditary monarchs to rule furnishes an obvious example. The Tudor dynasty in England and the ruling families of Mewar, in Rajasthan (India) are some examples of traditional authority. [Some might say that the father being described as the “head of the household” might be construed as traditional authority in patriarchal societies.]
  • The third form of authority is Charismatic authority. Here, the charisma of the individual or the leader plays an important role. Charismatic authority is that authority which is derived from “the gift of grace” or when the leader claims that his authority is derived from a “higher power” (e.g. God or natural law or rights) or “inspiration”, that is superior to both the validity of traditional and rational-legal authority and followers accept this and are willing to follow this higher or inspired authority, in the place of the authority that they have hitherto been following.” [Joan of Arc is a great historical example. The best examples in post-war America are Dr. Martin Luther King and the Reverend Billy Graham.]

There is a fine line between the charismatic and the charlatan that, in the modern world, has blurred to the point of absurdity as the most fundamental characteristic of a self-styled charismatic is physical attractiveness. This is most blatantly evident in the world of marketing. No unattractive people need apply as, apparently, attractiveness equates to authority. In fact, most marketing experts agree that Abraham Lincoln could never be elected President of the United States in 21st Century America.

“George Bernard Shaw wrote “…the reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself; therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man”. [For instance,] youths of today can make a difference in their societies by standing out in the crowd and upholding moral values in a morally bankrupt society.” [What a sad statement.]

 Manners and courtesy are an aspect of modern societies that are experiencing serious deterioration and we are doing nothing to remedy this problem; traditional values in social relations are being erased by new and so-called “modern” behaviors that are, in reality, inconsiderate and often coarse. Bad manners have thus been converted into a growing problem that affects all levels of society: family, work, friendships, business, and politics, not to mention their negative effect on romantic and personal relationships in general.

Bad manners and discourteousness increase when we leave behind basic standards of polite behavior in favor of rude and disrespectful treatment [of others – something we would object to if we were the target]. These bad [behaviors which] result in rude conduct tend to be worse in areas with socialist tendencies [since socialism thrives on the desire to “normalize” the “other” person by demonizing them, which then justifies taking from those that have and giving to those that want] but are not limited to such environments, and represent a worrisome societal model that devalues all of us: the elderly, women, as well as those who are considered different because of race or physical aspects, etc.

The absence of courtesy and good manners creates societies where [certain] individuals [aren’t allowed] personal dignity and subjects them to an environment where crude behavior and inappropriate conduct are considered “normal” – even encouraged.” [Want evidence?  The Trump campaign thrived on rudeness. After his inauguration, he has been subjected to non-stop rudeness from the PLDC. He certainly earned it but its cost in the very operation of government is troubling. Want another example? Consider the world of “rap” and its effect on the African-American youth in the urban core.]

Consider in particular, rap “lyrics”. Rap “lyrics” are words set to an “urban” beat allegedly evoking life on the streets of America’s major urban centers. Rap stars are emulated by youth of all backgrounds – privileged and poor, especially black but also, Latino and white, male and female and are celebrated in society with frequent, well marketed public appearances, major motion pictures and uncritical news coverage. Some are extremely successful producers of rap music in their own right – celebrated business tycoons made off the debasement of police, women, white people and the celebration of drug dealers.

The lyrics to their recordings however, evoke the most ruthless, misogynist, anti-police, drug-centered and violent view of modern America imaginable and yet, they are celebrated by America’s charismatic leaders. The decline in respect among Americans for Americans can be directly related back –  among other factors that have been discussed above – to this phenomenon which has engulfed America’s inner-city youth and their suburban wanna-be’s – America’s next generation of leaders. Here are some examples – by no means, the worst:

“I’m ’bout to dust some cops off/cop killer, better you than me/cop killer, fawk police brutality” – Ice-T;

 “A young n*gga on the warpath/And when I’m finished, it’s gonna’ be a bloodbath/Of cops, dying in L.A.” – Ice Cube;

 “Put molly (a brain-stupefying drug) all in her champagne/She ain’t even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that/She ain’t even know it” – Rick Ross, “U.O.E.N.O”;

 “Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels/Beat that p*ssy up like Emmett Till” – Lil’ Wayne;

 “Fawk money/I don’t rap for dead presidents/I’d rather see the president dead/It’s never been said/But I set precedents and the standards” – Eminem;

 “Slob on my knob like corn on the cob / Check in with me and do your job” – Three 6 Mafia;

“Pregnant p***y is the best you can get/ F***** a b**** while her baby s***** d***”. – UGK;

“The b**** tried to gag me. So, I had to kill her. Yeah, straight hittin’/ Now listen up and lemme tell you how I did it/ Yo, I tied her to the bed, I was thinking the worst but yo I had to let my n****** f*** her first yeah/ Loaded up the 44 yo, then I straight smoked the h**”. – NWA;

“When I first met you, you was a h**/ I tried to reform you, bomb you, warn you and teach you/ But couldn’t reach you, and you’re still a h**/ Your father said you was a h** and when you leave me, b**** you’re gonna be a h**”. – The RZA

“B****** know I’m that n*****/ talking four door Bugatti, I’m the life of the party/ Let’s get these h*** on the Molly” – Rick Ross, Jay-Z

  “I’m a pimp in every sense of the word, b****/ Better trust than believe’em, in the cut where I keep ’em til I need a n**/ til I need to beat the guts. – UGK

Then it’s, beep, beep and I’m pickin’em up/ Let ’em play with the d*** in the truck” – Jay-Z

“B****** ain’t s*** but h*** and tricks/ L*** on these n*** and s*** the d***/ Get the f*** out after you’re done/ And I hop in my ride to make a quick run” – Snoop Dogg

“S***, you think I won’t choke no w****/ ’til the vocal chords don’t work in her throat no more?! (Ah!) These m************ are thinking I’m playing – Eminem

Thinking I’m saying the s*** ‘cause I’m thinking it just to be saying it/ (Ah!) Put your hands down b****, I ain’t gonna shoot you/ I’ma pull you to this bullet, and put it through you”

“All you had to do was step up to her/ She was in the bathroom sayin’ ‘One at a time’” – Too Short;

“I’ll leave ’em looking’ like a rape victim/ Any girl who steps to it/ Ends up getting’ their stomach pumped like Rod Stewart/ I do a damn good job” – Kool G. Rap;

“Now the title ‘b****’ don’t apply to all women/ But all women have a little b**** in ‘em (yeah)/ It’s like a disease that plagues their character, taking’ the women of America”– Ice Cube;

“So, don’t be a n**** sex slave b****/ Don’t try to be brave b****/ You be a dead b**** in the grave b****/ B**** you think a n**** and come beef out” – Kool G. Rap;

“Treat ’em like a prostitute (do what?)/ Don’t treat no girlie well until you’re sure of the scoop/ ’cause all they do is they hurt and trample” –  Slick Rick;

“Girls always ask me why I f*** so much/ I say ‘What’s wrong, baby doll, with a quick nut?’/ ‘Cause you’re the one, and you shouldn’t be mad/ I won’t tell your mama if you don’t tell your dad/ I know he’ll be disgusted when he sees your p**** busted/ Won’t your mama be so mad if she knew I got that a**?” – Fresh Kid Ice.

Had enough?

“In today’s societies, it’s common for people to regard courtesy as old-fashioned and out-of-date, so that increasingly more individuals behave rudely, making interaction difficult and creating an unpleasant social environment that makes people want to run and hide. Bad manners can be observed anytime, anywhere.

This sort of discourtesy is ever present and examples are too numerous to count or even mention: the disrespectful treatment of elderly people; invitations that aren’t responded to in any way; the lack of commitment to any event, job, or person; confirming attendance with no intention of attending; the strange disappearance of “please” and “thank you” from most people’s vocabulary; line-jumping; serial texters and cell-phone addicts who talk on the phone, as well as read and send text messages instead of paying attention to physically present persons; the friend or colleague who never offers to pick up the bill at lunch, or even pay their own way; repulsive children (the spitting image of their parents) who think that the world rotates around them and behave obnoxiously because of it, etc., etc.

If you think the children aren’t watching, consider the words of Natalie Qabazard, a 15-year old Senior at Ursuline High School.

 “In contemporary America, it seems as though more and more teenagers are inclined to act disrespectfully toward adults. The notion that the youth must respect their elders has completely vanished. What has replaced this attitude is a sense of disobedience, noncompliance and rudeness. Some contributors include the lack of discipline from parents, the mimicking of friends’ attitudes toward adults and how the media portrays disrespectful teenagers as being hip.

Modern families contain parents who are more driven and focused on their careers and less focused on the success of their family. According to essortment.com, “Becoming a teenager brings with it a host of new emotions, attitudes and behaviors. As kids age 13 to 19 move from childhood to maturity, they often experiment with language to express their boundaries and talk back to parents in ways that are inappropriate. It then becomes the parents’ duty to instruct their children how to speak with respect to authorities.”

The problem arises when parents fail to teach their children the correct way of behaving toward adults. Once threats are made, the parents back down and the teenager feels powerful. Now, the teenager has control over the parent, causing the parent to feel weak and powerless.

 [In the inner cities, children are empowered by the omnipresence of urban gangs ready to provide a “home” for estranged children who have been confronted with strong parenting in their family. In their (the child’s) eyes, there is no downside to spending as little time as possible at home and as much time as possible with the “kool kids” in the local gang.]

Now more than ever, teens are mimicking the disrespectful and disobedient attitude, which their friends exhibit at school. This can mainly be seen between a student and a teacher. The same attitude that is being used toward parents is used against school officials. Schools should enforce more disciplinary action against these rude teens so as to make them pay for their lack of respect. As teenagers go about their daily lives, they observe others being rude to their friends and their parents, so they in turn do the same. The amount of peer pressure is increasing; therefore, it results in conforming to their peers’ expectations.

The media portrays disrespectful teenagers as being “cool” and therefore has contributed to this epidemic. We see more and more disrespectful teenagers on TV because it is entertaining to watch. However, this should not be at the expense of our future society’s behavior.

On the popular reality show “My Super Sweet Sixteen,” spoiled adolescent girls treat their parents with a lack of respect in order to get what they want. It is apparent, in this TV show, that the parents of these 16-year-olds only care about buying their children happiness when, in fact, the child feeds off of this carelessness and would like to take the power away from the parents and bring it upon themselves. By televising such acts, it is promoting these behaviors, hence more of it.

Teenagers must end this form of verbal abuse because if this behavior persists, America will form into a country filled with insolence. How would the remainder of the world esteem America if the president was arrogant, rude and disrespectful? America is known for its stature as a nation, filled with kind and respectful people. However, with the way that our generation proceeds into the future, that stature will likely plummet.”

 “Out of the mouths of babes…”

Next time: The example set by today’s “adults”.

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