MANDELA, GANDHI, AND KING

In honor or Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, 2017, I am posting this excerpt from Resetting Respect. Respect was a key factor in all their lives.

 

 Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and first black president of South Africa.

The other evening I watched Invictus, Clint Eastwood’s 2009 movie in which Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, who was elected to that position in 1994. Previously Mandela had spent 27 years as a political prisoner for opposing South Africa’s white minority government and it’s policy of apartheid.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and was very impressed by Freeman’s portrayal of Mandela. I was struck by the self-respect that Freeman’s Mandela exuded, a self-respect that allowed him to interact comfortably with blacks and whites alike, a self-respect that allowed him to be a comfortable man among the people as well as a strong authority figure. I wondered if this was Freeman’s idea of Mandela, or whether the real Mandela conveyed that same self-respect and comfort with himself. So I Googled and YouTubed “Mandela,” and sure enough. The video clips of him over the years showed a man comfortable with himself and with others, a man with considerable self-respect and pride as well as respect for all those around him.

As I was reading about Nelson Mandela, the names Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., came up repeatedly. I searched for film clips of Gandhi and King, and they, too, each exhibited a similar presence, a similar sense of self-respect.

As I browsed from site to site, I was struck by several similarities in the lives of these great men. All three were key leaders of civil rights movements in their respective countries. All three were advocates of nonviolent civil disobedience as the best way for their people to obtain civil rights and freedom. All three were nominated for or awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And all three are among the most respected and revered leaders of the 20th Century.

I was curious about how these three men came to be the men they were, with their similar beliefs and strengths and self-respect, and whether there were similarities in their early lives that had influenced who they became. I spent some more time researching Gandhi, Mandela, and King, Jr., and found a pattern that ran among the early lives of all three. They were born into middle-class families that emphasized religion and morality. They were raised with a sense of self-worth and pride. As young men they all experienced affronts to their dignity. And then, throughout their lives, they worked tirelessly for and won respect and civil rights for their people.  

There were many takeaways for me from my brief immersion in and study of these three impressive lives. Respect begets respect. A healthy self-respect leads to valuing and hence respect for others. An early environment of respect, self-worth, and morality can lead to a lifelong attitude and style. A respectful approach to people and problems can change the world!

WHAT DIFFERENCE MIGHT A LITTLE RESPECT HAVE MADE?

What if the protagonist had treated everything he encountered with respect — had acknowledged that everything he met had value, whether he understood what the value was or not, and so deserved to be acknowledged and cared for?

MAN: a thought provoking animation about our impact on the world

Posted by David Wolfe on Wednesday, April 15, 2015

6 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO COUNTER GUN VIOLENCE

Cliff Schecter’s 2014 article from Moyers & company suggests 5 excellent ways ordinary citizens can have an impact on gun violence.  I encourage you to read the article and do what you can.

But I also suggest a 6th way all of us, regardless of political affiliation or position on the issue of gun violence, can have an impact.  I suggest we all need to breathe deeply and reset our respect attitude.  We all need to look for and nurture the value in every person we encounter.  The sweet little child across the street.  The difficult bagger at the grocery. The aggressive driver in our trunk.  The grouchy neighbor next door.

What would that do?

1) Every person would be valued and supported and less inclined to turn to violence for attention or validation.

2)  By paying better attention to all those around us, we would likely identify those in great need of help before they turned to violence.

3) The very difficult subject of gun violence could be discussed rationally by all sides of the topic, and an acceptable resolution reached.

4) The big picture of mental health/mental illness would not get lost in the debate and could actually be addressed.

5) The polarization in this country would be significantly reduced and we could approach and solve other divisive issues as well.

As I said in Resetting Respect, being respectful to all people, ideas and things seems simple.  It IS simple.  And profound.  It only requires an attitude adjustment, a shift from, “Show me,” to “You are valuable.”  We can start slowly and build the habit.  It is contagious — respect begets respect.  There is no penalty for slip-ups other than the status quo.  Respect doesn’t hurt anyone or anything.  It doesn’t cost anything other than a little mental effort to establish the habit.  Worst case scenario is that by living respectfully we lower our collective stress level.  Best case scenario is that respect becomes the norm and much of the rancor and posturing and pain and hatred in our society are eliminated. Then we, as individuals, as a society, and as a world can begin to address the major problems confronting us with a real chance to do something about them.  In fact, our respectful attitudes will already have begun the process!

 

POPE FRANCIS OFFERS RESPECT AND CHALLENGE

pope-francis-john-boehner-sad-face-lg

In his address to the Congress of the United States on September 24, 2015, Pope Francis expressed great respect for the American people in the way he discussed what he values about us.  That was especially clear as he described how Abraham Lincoln fought for liberty, Martin Luther King, Jr., struggled for equal rights for all, Dorothy Day worked for social justice for everyone, and Thomas Merton promoted discussion and peace between peoples and religions.  But then, as Pope Francis elaborated on the efforts and ideas of those four representative Americans, he challenged the Congress, and he challenged each and every American, to live up to those role models, to apply what we can learn from their examples to the many crises facing our world today:  poverty and income inequality; immigration; heightened racial and religious tensions;  global warming. He acknowledged our value, and then challenged us to live up to that inherent value, to the beliefs that we hold.  And he told us he was confident we could do it.  Then, from the porch of the United States Capitol, he asked for the prayers and well-wishes of the thousands before him, an acknowledgment of the value of each person in the throng. What a wonderful and, I hope and suspect, effective example of respect Pope Francis has given us.

WAYS TO RESPECT YOUR STUDENTS

Students need respect, too!  The following list from Resetting Respect offers some suggestions for all those who work with students.

 unnamedWays to Respect Your Students

1) Listen carefully to each student.

2) Give appropriate and helpful feedback.

3) Be clear about and give frequent reminders of expectations.

4) Be clear, fair and consistent about consequences.

5) Don’t compare students to their siblings or make frequent references to them.

6) Recognize the attention spans and activity levels of your students and design the day accordingly.

7) Avoid demeaning or humiliating any student either in front of the class or in one-on-one situations.

8) Avoid using sarcasm with students. They frequently won’t understand it and will be further confused by it.

9) Allow students to participate in establishing classroom guidelines.

10) Find out what the students want to learn, and incorporate as much of that as possible into the curriculum.

11) Present new material a variety of ways that address different learning styles, providing an opportunity for all students to learn the new content.

12) Create an atmosphere that encourages the students to share their problems and concerns with you, and then strategize with the students to address those issues.

 

Note to Communities, School Administrations and School Boards: For students to feel respected and to understand that you consider their education valuable and important, as well as for them to be able to learn, schools themselves must be safe, clean, and in good repair.

WAYS TO RESPECT YOUR TEACHER

In honor of the new school year, here is an excerpt from my book, Resetting Respect, that offers some things for students of all ages to think about.images

Ways to Respect Your Teacher

1) Try to give the teacher your full attention.

2) Follow the classroom rules and guidelines.

3) Use good manners with your teacher.

4) Do your best to get to school and class on time.

5) Let your teacher know if you don’t understand something or have a concern or a problem.

6) Keep your hands to yourself in the classroom and on the playground.

7) Try not to disturb the other students.

8) Do the assigned work to the best of your ability and on time.

9) Participate enthusiastically in classroom activities.

10) Offer to help the teacher when you notice something that needs doing.

 

Note to Parents: For a classroom to be successful, teachers need to respect the students and students need to respect the teachers. Therefore it is imperative that you model respect for teachers at home. If your kids think you don’t respect their teachers, it is likely they won’t respect their teachers either.

RESPECT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: GOP DEBATE, AUG 6

I must admit that while I was watching the first 2016 GOP debate live, I was focusing on my “sense of” the candidates, appraising their tactics, and musing on the intentions of the journalists.  It was when I recently watched the debate a second time (and I will admit I didn’t get to see it all), that I noticed some respect takeaways:

“We need to stop worrying about being loved and start worrying about being respected,” opined Governor Chris Christie about international relations.

“We need to give everybody the chance, treat everybody with respect and let them share in this great American dream that we have,” Governor John Kasich said, after having offered that while he does not agree with same-sex marriage, the court has ruled and he accepts it.

And Donald Trump.  He seems to confuse political correctness with respect and civility, and lowers the bar on behavior to the detriment of us all.  A more respectful Trump could help us know his policy positions rather than leaving us simply to respond, positively or negatively, to his style. A more respectful Trump might inspire the picture of a more presidential Trump rather than the bombastic incident-inciter he currently seems.  A more respectful Trump might help us decide whether his campaign is truly for real or just for his own amusement and gratification.

 

KEEPING TRACK OF RESPECT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

This post may be the first use of the word “respect” I’ve seen by a 2016 presidential candidate.  Let’s keep track — let me know if you’ve seen or see other instances of the word or respectful behavior, regardless of political affiliation!

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Sunday that he does not always see eye to eye with Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

“She and I disagree on many issues,” Sanders, himself a 2016 White House hopeful, said of Clinton on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I have a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton,” he told host Jonathan Karl. “She is somebody I’ve known for 25 years.”

“I’m not going to be engaging in personal attacks against her,” Sanders added.

“The American people want a serious debate about serious issues, not personal attacks.”

 

“THE UNIVERSE” DESCRIBES RESPECT