Respect. We demand it, think we are entitled to it and get upset if we don’t get it. Respect for oneself, respect for others, respect for an organization or institution, even when we don’t agree with their actions. Respect doesn’t require agreement; it just requires acknowledgement.  

Respect for ourselves comes from doing our best in any situation. It’s not disparaging ourselves because we are not perfect, but it is accepting who we are — people who are trying to do their best, even when we fall short. It’s being kind to ourselves. It’s not letting others dictate to us what or how we should be. It’s acknowledging when we march to our own drum because that is what makes sense to us. Being respectful to ourselves means not referring to ourselves and others with disparaging labels or nicknames.  

Respect for others is acknowledging everyone is on their own journey even if it is different from our own. We don’t have to believe the same things but accept those differences in others. It is not making assumptions about someone based on their religion, their family roots, job or their ethnicity. It’s not getting on social media and blasting strangers who are bold enough to state their points of view. And it isn’t tormenting someone with cyber bullying. When we have respect for others, we help them if we can or we let them be.  

We watch the news and see journalists tearing their guests apart for what they believe to be true. We see them dismiss people of this administration as evil or misguided. It is a far cry from the days when Walter Cronkite only reported the facts and wondered if he had shown too much emotion at the moon landing. A big supporter of the early days of the space program, he took off his glasses and smiled. Now we are told what to think by “experts” and aspersions are cast if we don’t agree. Media personalities now judge our elected officials and use pejorative words to describe them. 

We see sports figures who disrespect our flag, our national anthem and refuse invitations to the White House. Sports figures participate in international games under our flag (and perhaps our funding) who, when they reach the podium, fail to stand at attention when the national anthem is played but raise their fist or kneel. They fail to respect the institutions that allow them to compete. We are not the only country with social inequalities, but we should always remember that we have more in common than our differences. Our personal beliefs should never be put on display when we are representing our community, our team or our country. We repeatedly see bad sportsman-like behavior. Show good sportsman-like behavior— that is humble in our wins and gracious in our losses out of respect for ourselves and others.  

We need to restore respect for our teachers and administrators. These are the people who have an education and have trained how to run a classroom and/or a school. They want to work with students and parents to make an exciting educational experience, yet too often they are stymied by the disrespect they are shown by students and parents. Change is hard, but we need to respect everyone has the best interests of the students and the community. Insist your children respect their teachers and the schools they attend so they may have the best educational experience possible.  

Always remember respect is a two-way street. You may find when you give respect to everyone, no matter who they are or what job they hold, you will get respect in return.  

Elsie Hickman is a Lake Martin resident and weekly columnist for The Outlook.