Tuesday, August 02, 2005

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

I've been thinking about respect alot lately. I feel like some people don't respect me as much as I used to think (see previous posts for some of this, although not all of it), and I've been wondering why. Is there something inherent in me that makes people lack respect for me? Am I not respect-worthy? If I ask something of someone, are my wishes not worth taking into account? Do I deserve to be blown off?

Hard questions to answer internally, no? Two sides of my nature are at war on this issue. The cocky, arrogant, ulta-self-assured side says HELL YES I'M WORTHY! The nervous, scared, ultra-self-conscious side of me says maybe there's a reason they're being mean.

These are tough issues for me to come to terms with. I know that I lose respect in some people's eyes because of things I do. But at the same time, sometimes I don't think I deserve to lose that respect. Just because I disagree with someone's religious views doesn't mean they should throw requests I make out the window, especially when I'm trying to do something nice for them to begin with.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the easiest person to get along with. Just ask my wife. I'm sure she can share horror stories about what I was like before I was diagnosed as cyclothymic and got medicated. Heck, she can probably share horror stories about last week. (Hmmmm ... future post opportunities???) But, there are times when I try to reach out, to bridge the gap between my own hard-won and hard-held beliefs & attitudes and those of my acquaintances who don't share those things.

I am invariably rebuffed and shown time and time again that I shouldn't even bother. I know not all "people of faith" are like this, but I have found lately that the people in my life that are "religious" (whatever that means) are, not to put too fine a point on it, bastards.

Take, for example, my "friends" with a ten year old homeschooled boy. Now, when I was ten, I loved the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. I know. I know. How very topical, considering the movie coming out soon, right? Well, I didn't know about that when all this started, so shut yer gob! :)

Anyway, when I was ten, I loved the CoN. And C. S. Lewis was a pretty famous Christian apologist, so I figured his children's books would be acceptable to a Christian family. And I, being the packrat that I am, still had my twenty year old copies of the CoN from my childhood. So, in a gesture of friendship, and in an effort to give this ten year old boy (who doesn't get many nice gestures coming his way) a piece of myself, in an effort to show him that I love him, I gave him a piece of my childhood. As shallow as it may sound, I was trying to give him a piece of myself, so that he would know that I loved him. But I realized that he might have already had a set, so I asked him to give them back if he didn't want/need them. I thought it was a reasonable request. I could always pass these books on to the child of one of my other friends someday, or even, *gasp* my own kids some day. Remember this part of the request. It becomes important later.

Of course, in typical ten year old boy fashion, the kid didn't get it. At least not immediately. I should have known better, I suppose. But his mother knew. She got it. She even commented on it. She understood what I was trying to do, and she appreciated it.

For about a day.

Not long after I gave this boy this bit of my history, his mother caught the eBay bug. Selling, not buying. And she started to scour her house in an effort to find things to sell. Understandable all the way, right? eBay is a great way to bring in a little extra cash. I've thought about trying my hand at it myself. And I'll admit that if I did, I'd probably end up selling something that someone had given me as a gift.

But you know what. This mother made a point to tell this ten year old that these books were important, and to pay attention (or so I'm told....I work nights a lot, so I wasn't actually there to give 'em to the boy....it sucks, but it's true). Too bad she didn't take her own damned advice.

You already saw where this was going, right? Yep, she sold those books on eBay. Never even thought about, from what I can tell.

So, respect. This is only one incident in several recently that have been making me think about respect. The things mentioned in my previous posts also indicate a certain lack of respect.

Every relationship has a component of respect in it. This component may be empty in a given relationship, but it's still there. I have the utmost respect for my wife. She is the most amazing woman I have ever met. And just to set the record straight, I thought that before I ever slept with her. ;)

I have a certain amount of respect for my parents. I didn't turn out too badly, all things considered. They had a lot to do with that. I doubt they can see that right now, considering how much I differ with them on SOOOOO many issues, but I'd like to think that some day, they will pay me the respect I deserve as an adult with my own life. I'd actually love to think that. It's not ever going to happen, but I'd love to think it.

Hell, I have respect for those political conservatives who are conservative due to well thought out principles. Our political system here in the USA needs a brake on it, and conservativism serves as that brake. (It needs an engine to drive it and a hand to steer it, as well. That's liberalism and moderatism, respectively.)

The people I lack respect for, and those for whom I have lost the respect I once had are those who are blind followers. Those that are so tied to their upbringing that they can't do what's right, even if they were erroneously taught in their youth that it was wrong. Those that don't question the actions of others at all times. A belief that can't stand up to a little questioning is worthless. A principle that is followed because you've been told to follow it is hollow, at best, and dangerous at worst. I can't respect the people who do these things.

Maybe that's why others seem to disrespect me. Maybe their view is different. Perhaps the height of respectful behavior IS to follow blindly. If so, I guess I'll just have to live without the respect of some of my peers and family. I don't follow anything or anyone blindly. I don't believe anyone should. Do you? Would you? Are you?

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"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain

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Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu