This is what it means to me.
Today is Respect Day, so here’s my take on it…
Respect is central in my world and is a huge factor in how I function. It is the cornerstone of any relationship I establish, whether romantic, business or friendship. In any interaction, I try to act in the most respectful manner possible. Due to its importance in my life and the way I live, I seek its presence in others. Unfortunately, respect is seldom found these days. Whether it has been dropped from the human condition during (de)evolution, or it has been deemed “uncool” by popular culture, I’m unsure. What I am sure of is that respect is disappearing and a new, highly invasive action is taking it’s place. Although there is no scientific name for it as of yet, I call it “ball buttering”. Yes, “ball buttering” and woman are notorious for it, despite the somewhat misleading name.
In this age of immediate, undue praise garnered by social media, people have developed a skewed view of how they should be treated in the real world. Behind the screen, people are liked by many. As the little heart or thumb numbers grow, so does the self-esteem (momentarily) of the person receiving the “likes”or “love”. Now, it may feel good, but it’s problematic. When people fish for praise of mundane daily business, or even their face once a week (or more), then catch the praise they are fishing for, they assume the whole world should respond to them in such a manner. It’s this whole “they like me, you should too” attitude. It is a self-motivated, self-centered, shallow mentality that has driven respect (among other things) to the edge of extinction.
I’m not even sure that people that have adopted “ball buttering” in leu of actual respect know they are doing it. They are confused in thinking that flattery, exaggerated praise, insincere complements, “hanging out” and discussing all sorts of nonsensical drama equals respect. Let’s get real, it doesn’t and never will, the sum of that will forever be equal to the action of ball buttering.
So what is respect???
- Respect is being courteous, even when in the presence of people who don’t deserve respect. This doesn’t mean being passive aggressive or overly nice, then talking trash once you are in the clear. I stand by Thumper’s line “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Most people do deserve courtesy and I dole it out, no problem, but once a person has shown that they are the disrespectful type, I become very quiet until communication beyond an acknowledgement of presence becomes necessary.
- Respect is knowing there will be a time when you have to be honest and say “that not so nice something” and having the reasoning to back it up. This comes back the issue of intent. Honest, reasonable, respectful intent backing an action will always work.
- Respect is understanding that others do have feelings and taking those into account before making a move or opening your mouth. That’s not to say something may not come out wrong, but then we can go back to intent and explain it.
- Respect is being mindful that people have lives. They cannot always bend on command, they cannot be at your beck and call, nor should others expect such from you. Respect is knowing that your needs (and wants) ARE NOT paramount, every moment of every day.
- Respect is knowing that not everyone will see things the way you do and that a thoughtful, valid stance on something weighs more than agreement on a subject.
- Respect is caring about yourself enough to act with grace and integrity.
What it isn’t, just to make a clear distinction…
- Respect isn’t motivated by personal gain. Keeping people around or pretending to be interested in their lives because you have something to gain will never be respectful. Care and interest should always be genuine, otherwise you are just buttering balls.
- Respect isn’t playing nice, then talking not-so-nice. This is related to the previous point and is based on the whole concept of “what it looks like” to everyone else…another pitfall of the social media age. If you don’t like what someone is about, don’t pretend to be friends in public then “privately” slam the person an hour later. You can be civil without being fake, there’s no need for a complete farce. It’s called having standards and principles, another concept people have forgotten.
Because I practice the dead art of respect, not arbitrary complementing, I have come under fire on a number of occasions. Whether I’m being outright ignored, called names (aggressive and bitch seem to be popular), or just flat out having my character attacked, it all stems from the fact that I DO NOT partake in the buttering of balls. Respect works both ways. If I see that someone doesn’t give it to me, to others (especially those I keep close) or themselves…they will not get it from me, not in full Sawyer strength anyway. At best, they will get the “say nothing at all” until the “honest something not-so-nice” must come out. And still, that “honest something not-so-nice” will be phrased as respectfully as possible.