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on respect

From John Fischer’ blog The presence of the holy

“Respect… you give it, you get it; you don’t, you won’t.”

You may have heard it said that you need to earn respect in order to receive it. I suppose at some level respect is something earned, as in one’s area of expertise or one’s career. But in terms of personhood, there is a basic level of respect that everyone deserves regardless of one’s position or performance. It’s what everyone should receive freely from the beginning by nature of being made in the image of God. Otherwise, respect will be determined by nationality, race, religion, physical/mental attributes, or some other category made important by the group or designated point of view.

At its basic level, respect is a spiritual thing. It’s ultimately based on an understanding of who we all are in the eyes of God.

In his 2001 commencement address at Marquette University, the late Fred (Mister) Rogers said: “For a long time I wondered why I felt like bowing when people showed their appreciation for the work that I’ve been privileged to do. What I’ve come to understand is that we who bow are probably—whether we know it or not—acknowledging the presence of the eternal: we’re bowing to the eternal in our neighbor. You see, I believe that appreciation is a holy thing, that when we look for what’s best in the person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does. So, in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred.”

How much difference would it make in the way we treated people, if whenever we were in someone else’s presence, we were aware of being in the presence of the holy?

Today, make a decision to think more about giving respect than getting it.

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