Monday, November 30, 2009
Needed: New Dictionary
Respect (ri-spekt) noun: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.
Apparently mine was called into question. I find it humorous this dual syllable word can cause such an impact. Thrust upon me like a slap in the face, like a stab in the heart. Then again, I think it bears more impact dependent upon who's mouth the utterance is thrown.
There are many reasons people are shown respect, and certainly more often people are shown lack thereof. Drug addicts, prostitutes, criminals. Easy to see the lack of regard these dregs of society harbor. But the laymen? Most everyone should be treated with at least a semblance of decency and respect until proven otherwise.
We all know I am no saint. I never promised to be. I have made bad choices, stupid decisions and there isn't a single person I know who doesn't forever see me paying the consequences of my own actions. But what makes one person different from another, what makes people worthy of respect is that ability to do two things.
First is the ever clichéd act of admitting you did anything wrong in the first place. Humility is its own rite of passage and no one else should ever be allowed to make you feel bad about your own choices, especially if you feel that way as you stand alone.
Second is not repeating that same mistake twice and learning from your prior bad choices. Not diving back down those bad paths because they may have been easier. Foraging alone ahead, even if it’s hard.
What right does anyone else have to make you feel bad about your life? Who gave anyone else that judgmental ability to look at you and decide what is worthy of respect, what isn't?
I have dug myself out of the ashes. Sure I am still covered in soot and sure my vision is still blurred from the dust of it all settling, but I am no longer buried by it all. I did that and I alone take credit for it. THAT in and of itself is worthy of respecting.
I am raising my child alone. I have no financial support from another parent, I have no second income from a spouse. Hell I don't even get money from the government with the exception of a ration of bread. I do it alone. It is hard and I complain sure, but I still do it. That is worthy of respect.
I am a rape survivor. I silently punished myself for years. I took blame for what happened to me, then I blamed everything with a penis as if it weren't just the fault of a few bad men. I wrote an article published in a major newspaper and spoke to women about it when I was in college. Even if I only helped one or two people, I helped someone. THAT is worthy of respect.
I have championed for charities in other people’s names. I have given selflessly and when I have nothing myself to give. Dropped everything to care for those I loved. I never asked for anything in return, and I never would. THAT is worthy of respect.
SO I ask those skeptics and critics, those harsh on lookers in their pious glass houses, who are you? What about you makes you better than I am? Makes you able to cast your judgments on me, hurt me with your words and spread words to others you don't respect me?
Because I think you honestly need a new dictionary.