Respect (n):1.) An attitude of deference, admiration, or esteem; regard 2). the state of being honored or esteemed (from Latin rēspicere to look back, pay attention to, from re- + specere to look)
The Free Dictionary
Years ago a man told me he didn’t respect me. I couldn’t understand why he disrespected me. He said he didn’t disrespect me. I hadn’t fallen within specific parameters he felt necessary for me to fit into how he defined “respect”. The definition above comes closest for me to better live with. But still, there must be more I thought.
The definition leaves out certain other descriptors. We must ask: what causes us to show deference? What is it about a person earns him the admiration of another person or more specifically, a colleague? What elevates a man or woman to the point of being held in esteem? What must a person do to earn that honor others afford you as something above and beyond your simple existence?
Sure; all men are created equal under God and deserve the simple human right of respect for being a human being. It’s even recorded in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. It’s a state of being expecting to be acknowledged and recognized by men everywhere.
But it’s not that simple. In order to stand among certain men and women you must show you’ve “been there”. You must share the commonality of the corps, the standards of the cadre’, understand the struggle of the fraternity. You must have tasted what they taste, breathed in what they’ve breathed and embraced your own mortality then become willing to sacrifice it so others don’t need to.
That sounds extreme, but those who’ve been there as I have understand exactly what I mean. It’s understood as a visceral bond, a primal connection beyond reason but felt to your core. Those who haven’t walk those streets and battlefields we have may be respected, but they don’t KNOW what we know. Though not diminished, they lack the elevated state we’ve been humbled to know.
Respect is earned through performance. It’s earned by sharing what you know and using it to keep others from walking into hell when all of you have already accepted the call to walk in harm’s way. That bond is in the veins, it courses in the blood.
It’s the pulse, the heartbeat, of a true American. It’s the red representing the blood of those sacrificed. It’s the purity of the cause witnessed in the emblematic display of whiteness in the stripes. It’s the heavenly blue of fields guarded by men and women given their all so all may know freedom as we do. It’s in the stars displayed on that blue field denoting the hallowed souls launched toward a warrior’s reward; the privilege to serve your God, country and people.
The drive to serve, the need to excel, the desire to be the best, that’s what respect is to us. That’s what we work to earn. Nobody gives it to you. You earn it. We respect what we love because we know it loves us. For those who give some we stand ready to give all. It’s what we do. It makes us who and what we are.
Some time back I spoke with some people about the strange course our country was taking. I said I had a problem based on the history of the newly elected candidate. I was told I must respect him because he was now the President and I must respect the office. I responded when a man denigrated his office and turned his back on the Constitution I would NOT respect him. His ascension to that office was a fluke and not deserved. I refuse to apologize for that feeling.
The man doesn’t love this country. He disrespects it, and us, daily with his duplicity and lies. He bows to potentates and camouflaged enemies. He apologizes for our good efforts and intent to see ALL men are free of oppression. He disrespects our flag and those fallen defending it and what it stands for. He has NO personal, first-hand knowledge of suffering and sacrifice or what we’ll do to protect those behind us.
He’s never walked the walk though he’ll talk the talk he’s famous for. It means nothing. Because he’s not stood where we have, has not endured what we have; has only theory of what struggle is and what it means to endure deprivation of one form or another; he can’t earn our respect.
Simply winning the job doesn’t make you worthy of holding it. It’s only means the better liar won the pot. It doesn’t mean you deserve it.
He’s earned no deference, no esteem; no admiration or regard. He’s accomplished next to nothing of value as a man. He alleges he leads when we all know better. He’s hollow and without respect; he’s nothing.
But still, America endures and remains the one I respect with all my heart.
Thanks for listening.