Updated: Feb 1
Dedicated to my five children and written from their vantage point.
May this series teach you how to respect yourself and others. And as a result, bring healing to a wounded world.
What does the word "respect" even mean?
What does it mean to "respect" someone?
Is respect something that must ALWAYS be conditionally EARNED?
Or is respect something that can ALSO be unconditionally GIVEN?
How would the world change if we ALL began giving the GIFT of unconditional love and respect to one another?
But, to be honest, that last question doesn't even FEEL right.
Respect is something that must ALWAYS be earned. Right?
Why would I ever just GIVE someone respect when they may not DESERVE it?
Like to SOMEONE WHO THINKS THEIR BETTER THAN ME.
Someone who bullies me. Someone who belittles and DISRESPECTS me. Someone who makes fun of me. Someone who labels me and calls me names. Someone who has hurt me.
Someone that I don't like. Someone I may even despise or hate. Someone I consider an enemy.
Someone I disagree with. Someone from a different culture. Someone from a different tribe. Someone from a different religion. Someone from a different political party.
Why would I ever GIVE respect to such arrogant, "superior" acting people?
Or on the flip side of the equation, why would I ever GIVE respect to SOMEONE WHO I THINK I'M BETTER THAN.
Someone who - according to my "judgement" - is not as "good" as me.
Someone less popular. Someone younger. Someone smaller. Someone less intelligent and less educated. Someone less physically attractive.
Someone less successful. Someone with less money. Someone with a crappier home, car, or clothes. Someone with a lower social standing. Someone with less social confidence.
And, of course, someone "less virtuous" than myself. Someone who I self-righteously believe that I'm "gooder" than.
Why would I ever GIVE respect to those I deem as "inferior" people?
To be completely transparent, I have been struggling over the last year with both ends of this spectrum. I have been struggling with frequent bitter, resentful, and even hateful thoughts toward other "elite/superior" and "idiot/inferior" human beings.
And, in a sick sort of way, sometimes it even FEELS good to feel this way.
But I know that way down deep, this is not who I want to be.
I say these things, so you know that what I am about to share with you - about giving respect as a GIFT - doesn't FEEL quite right to me.
But I believe it is right.
My baser self is not comfortable with what I am about to tell you. It bristles at most of this counsel and content. But my better self knows it is the North Star I need to follow to light my way in a dark world. And to perhaps help you and others find a better way for making a better world.
So what is respect?
And why should I even consider giving it as an unconditional GIFT to others?
And how do I give respect as a gift to someone when I don't FEEL like it?
Let's get into this.
Back in the Fall of 2019, we visited the majestic Grand Canyon. Needless to say, I was on pins and needles trying to keep all of you safe and away from the cliff's edge. An elderly man chuckled at me when he saw the white knuckle grip I had on two of you.
He replied, "You look like me years ago when I brought my children!"
Despite my fatherly fears, what a view we had from Yavapai Point on the South Rim of the Canyon. The sheer vastness of the Grand Canyon was just indescribably beautiful – especially at sunset.
I want you to imagine that a 10-mile tightrope was installed at Yavapai Point at the South Rim. Then the tightrope was made to span all the way across the Grand Canyon to an anchor point on the North Rim.
If someone were to ask me, “For a billion dollars, would you ever attempt to walk across the entirety of that tightrope with only a balancing pole?”
My answer would be a rapid and resounding, “No!”
As you know, I’m terrified of extreme heights. Not for all the money in the world would I even attempt a 10-mile tightrope hovering above the Grand Canyon. It’s not worth it to me.
However, let me change the scenario and the stakes. If someone were to ask me “Would you walk that same tightrope if your son's or your daughter’s life depended on it?”
In a heartbeat.
Even if it meant my own death, I certainly would die trying. It is amazing how love removes fear. Paralyzing phobias can turn to into powerful resolve and focus if the stakes are high enough.
That’s how valuable all of you are to me.
Said a different way, if someone asked me to sell my home and property for a trillion dollars, would I take it?
In a millisecond.
If someone offered me a trillion dollars for one of my children, would I take it?
That’s how valuable you are to me.
Are you getting the idea that, to your biased father, you children are priceless?
To me, you are of inestimable worth and value. If I were to put a price tag on you and someone said to me, “I want to buy one of your children. What is the sales price you have on his/her price tag?”
My firm and irrevocable answer would be: “Not for sale. Not now. Not ever. Not for all the riches in the world.” To me, you are literally priceless.
But you were born into a very dark and cruel world.
One that is one big, battle for survival.
One that is one big, dominance hierarchy. One that is all about human power rankings and vying for dominance in every category of life.
One where you are judged all the time by everyone for everything.
One where everyone carries around metaphorical price tags and pens.
Did you catch that?
Almost every person you will ever meet in life will attempt to slap a price tag on you, and then write on your price tag what they think you are worth.
Be prepared. Other people will not see you as priceless.
I do not say this to depress you. I say this to mentally prepare you. This is why family love is the supreme love. When your mom and dad say that you are priceless, we really mean it.
But you were born into a world where people do NOT view each other as valuable and priceless.
Instead, people frequently go to the other end of the spectrum.
Listen for it. You’ll hear it often.
They may even say such things to you.
- “Your worthless.”
- “He's complete trash.”
- “What a waste of human flesh.”
- “She’s total garbage.”
- “That person is a total P.O.S.”
- “What a loser.”
This is the world you were born into. A world filled with disrespect and devaluing of one another.
A world where people slap price tags on one another and write down the value of $0.
Why do we humans do this to each other?
I've tried to honestly answer that question at length in Diamonds and Dominators.
But let me briefly recap some of my beliefs here.
Let me ask the question again.
Why do we humans disrespect and devalue each other so cruelly and universally?
Because everything on Earth is nothing more than one big dominance hierarchy battle. Everyone is vying for the dominant position.
Everyone wants to be the judge, not the judged.
Everyone wants to be the dominator who lives by the belief that, “I'm better than you, so I have "earned" the right to bully and belittle you. I’m dominant over you, so I have "earned" the right to disrespect and devalue you.”
How does one live in such a twisted, screwed-up world?
Where does one start in trying to heal such a wounded world?
Several years back. I came across a saying that went something like this.
“Don’t ask, ‘What type of world are we leaving to our children?’
Ask ‘What type of children are we leaving to the world?’”
I have resigned as general manager of the universe. I know that I'm not going to be able to make wholesale changes in this world by myself. But I do believe that I can make a difference in my little corner of the world.
And the best investment of my time is my five children.
I want to challenge the seven of us in our family to do our part in the healing process of this wounded world. And I believe if we learn how to GIVE respect to ourselves and others as a GIFT, we will FIND healing and BRING healing to a very spiritually sick planet.
Let me close this intro by doing two things: 1) defining respect, and 2) giving you an overview of the 7 ways to GIVE respect as a gift.
First, if we are to GIVE respect, we should probably know what it means.
What is respect?
To respect someone simply means to give value and worth to that individual. To make them feel important.
Let me borrow from an earlier analogy.
Respect is taking a pen to another person’s price tag.
A price tag that this world has already slapped upon them.
And when you give respect to another person, you are marking up their price. Respect is making someone feel more valuable because you took the time to recognize their worth and value.
And the other person doesn't have to EARN this treatment from us. We can choose to lovingly GIVE it as a GIFT. Not because of who they are. But because of who we've chosen to become.
Second, how do you give such respect to another person as a gift?
Using the seven letters of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. as an acronym, we will outline the seven ways to GIVE respect as a healing GIFT to others. We will expand upon each of these points in 7 subsequent posts.
R = Receive – love and accept others for who they are.
E = Equalize – stand beside others as equals. Not above them. Not below them.
S = See – Notice others. Don’t treat others like they’re invisible.
P = Protect – Stick up for others. Never bully another human being.
E = Empathize – Listen to the stories of others. Try to feel what they feel.
C = Compliment – People crave affirmation. Compliment them.
T = Thank – People crave appreciation. Thank them.