Respect: Have it. Use it.

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I haven’t written in weeks, perhaps months. I fear if I take my time and really think this through, my life will pull me away from the post, and it will remain (like so many others) in draft form. So I am sharing a stream of conscious with you. While I will try to write correctly and coherently, I am not trying to win any grammar awards or accolades with this post. In advance, I extend my apologies to the grammar police.

My name is Lenore, and I watch Big Brother. That fact is tough to admit, because my husband despises reality television – and when he finds me watching Big Brother (or Survivor), he expresses his displeasure with my choice of shows to watch, over and over again.

I’m not here to defend the time I waste spend watching Big Brother, instead I am here to applaud the producers/editors of Big Brother for showing what appears to be more complete conversations between the houseguests vs. the typical sound bites shared in the show. Plus, I am here to share my thoughts regarding racism and general lack of respect.

Surely you are in the know, right? Surely you are aware of the fact that there is at least one houseguest within the Big Brother house unafraid to share her feelings about the people around her. Specifically, this houseguest will openly disrespect her black and gay co-houseguests.

(Side note: Am I the only person to find sick irony/coincidence with the fact that this houseguest’s name is Aaryn? Her name is so very close to “Aryan”, as in the Aryan Nation.)

My friends will tell you – my black friends, Indian friends, Armenian friends, Jewish friends, white friends, etc. – I like to be of the opinion that racism does not exist. I like to be of the opinion that we all get along far better than the media implies. Alas, Aaryn’s behavior has made it difficult for me to “unsee” the truth that exists.

So, in addition to admitting I watch Big Brother, I will also admit that racism exists. HOWEVER, the bigger issue, in my humble opinion, is a lack of respect. Regardless of your race, religion, creed, nationality, stature, weight, hair color, etc., individuals seem to spew disrespect towards anyone that is different and/or disagrees with whatever is being said or done. Outward differences seem more easily overlooked when folks are in agreement with one another.

###

Ducking to avoid all that will be tossed my way, I ask: Isn’t calling someone a dumb blonde similar to stereotyping a redneck or black person?  Easy. Easy. Yes, I understand – the history that exists between whites, blacks, slavery, and segregation makes the disrespect deeply personal and more hurtful. I get it, and I agree completely.

But…

At one point, Aaryn dismissed her lack of respect by saying her housemates call her a dumb blonde and judge her by her looks all the time.

Okaaay. So that makes it right? Heck no. HECK no.

But…

When we peel away the layers, isn’t it within our nature to pick on those different from us? Isn’t it within our nature to pull from stereotypes?

I realize the above statement may sound like I am defending Aaryn. I am not defending her. I am suggesting we are becoming desensitized to the lack of respect that is spreading like a bad rash.

The line between being funny and being hurtful is blurred and growing wider until – BAM – we are hit in the face with something that seemingly caught us off guard.

We are becoming more and more disrespectful as the years go by.  And, as my friends probably expect me to say- I blame part of this on social media and the no-filter and knee-jerk responses that fill Facebook and Twitter.

I won’t discuss the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman story, except to say that Trayvon’s friend who testified at the trial made me cringe when she used the word “cracker”. That word disgusts me, because it reminds me of the horrific treatment of the slaves. I am not a “cracker”, but because I am white and living in the South – it is a word someone could call me if they were mad or looking to hurt me. Dare I say, for those whites born after slavery, the word is as hurtful to us as the “n” word is to blacks. Both words conjure up an awful piece of history. Both words should be buried once and for all. As long as both words exist and are used in hate or in play (between people of the same race), an ongoing division will continue as a side-effect.

Can we get rid of “bitch”, too? I cannot stand how freely that word is used.

Folks, we lack respect for history, respect for elders, respect for families, respect for people, etc. We lack respect. Period.

###

To the producers/editors of Big Brother I say “Thank you.” Thank you for bringing the reality of racism and disrespect into the homes of millions of viewers. May we walk away from this with a greater awareness of the need for respect, and may we provide the respect all people deserve.

###

This morning during breakfast, my 8yr old asked me a question. Unfortunately, I don’t remember his question, but I do remember the dialogue that it sparked.

“You know, Joe. There was a time when blacks and whites
were forced to – “

“I know. I know. Blacks couldn’t do the same things whites could. I know this already.”
“Okay. Well, sadly there are some people that still have those ideas.
And –“

“Stop, Mom. You’re embarrassing me. I know all this.”
“Just promise me you will never treat someone differently because they look one way or another.”
“Mom! You know I won’t.”

I’ll make sure to continue to embarrass Joe (and Charlie) as they get older. Their embarrassment with my reminders is a small price to pay to know they will not judge a person’s outer-appearance. After all, they always show me respect, and I wear socks with sandals and flip-flops.

Shoes

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22 thoughts on “Respect: Have it. Use it.

  1. Respect. This is the main thing my father taught me growing up. To respect everyone as human beings. I followed his example. I hope to teach my kids the same through my actions/beliefs. Kids are like sponges and they pick up stuff. The main thing I try to show them by living my life is to always respect and help others, to always look past outward appearances. Discrimination, stereotyping, racism is everywhere. I don’t get how people can’t see how simple it really is. If you are a human being, I don’t care whether you’re older, younger, white, black, in a wheelchair, deaf or watch Big Brother…you are a soul and deserving of love and respect. Always.

    Unfortunately words are powerful and they are tossed around casually. Sometimes they do indeed hurt others. I think it’s the intention behind the word that matters, too. Some words that might offend you, might not offend others. So we do need to be careful. I think the best all of us can do is to practice being more open to each other’s backgrounds and beliefs and to be kinder. More empathetic. And respectful.

    Great post, Lenore. (I also love to watch Big Brother…shhh, don’t judge)

    • Yep, yep, and yep, Darla. Forget about imaging world peace… imagine world respect. THAT would change everything. And with respect comes the freedom to disagree. Respecting someone doesn’t mean you believe in everything they believe – it merely means you accept their belief and will not judge them for it (so to speak). Smiling and nodding goes a long way, even if you don’t agree with what is being said at the time.
      Thanks for visiting, Darla.

  2. Nicely said. I’d like to add a thought…most (if not all in some way) reality tv shows help promote bigotry or racism or some other “ism” and not everyone is smart enough or aware enough (like you) to know what’s right and what’s oh, so, wrong. I won’t bore you with my opinion of these types of shows…but have your husband call me to talk him down next time you’re glued to the tube. *wink*

    • Hilarious! I may not be the brightest bulb, but I am bright enough to know you lean more towards Rob’s feelings of reality television. 😉 So. Will you be watching tonight?! No doubt, eh?

  3. Lack of respect. It is rampant in this culture. It occurs within ethnic circles, as if insiders didn’t have enough pain to endure. What that rough, disrespectful language does within an ethic group is desensitize individuals so that they can’t be hurt from the outside. I get that. But it does NOTHING to help them help each other gain self respect. Nor does it help outsiders to treat and think of them with respect.

    But it is not just there. Lack of respect is BLAM in our faces on TV, radio, FB, Twitter, billboards. I can’t bear it. I refuse to watch network television anymore and it’s been years since I’ve listened to commercial radio. At least on FB and other social media outlets I can filter and I can step forward to offer a counter-view. Just look at Congress for a model of closed ears, open mouths, and no respect governing the process.

    BTW, Welcome back stranger.

    • Thanks for the welcome, Linda. I appreciate your visit after all this time.
      I really believe the culprit in society is less racism and more lack of respect – perhaps color it a lack of respect for someone’s upbringing, way of life, style, etc. – still, I paint it more as disrespect than racism. Alas, that comes from a white woman.
      And yes – our gov’t doesn’t always show the best example of how to get along. Then again, the gov’t was created for the people by the people, so we have to start with us – to see a change in them.

      • I agree. I didn’t mean to paint this in a racist bubble. But to point out the inside out destructiveness of allowing disrespectful language to pervade even within groups who are struggling. But, I understand how that happens…as a result of outside ostracism and the horrible things that people endure. Together, I think they try to built a collective thick skin, but it backfires and only escalates the lack of respect. I think I’m not making sense. Sorry.
        We need to be respectful everywhere, school, work, politics, on the road, in the media, with our friends and with those who might never be our friends but we share a planet with them.

  4. And what’s so wrong about wearing socks with sandals? Maybe it’s because I live in the Northwest, where people wear Birks and socks with regularity. Or because when I was pregnant, my feet swelled to the point where I was able to loosen the straps on my Birkenstocks and wear wool socks with them in November. No judgment here.

    First off, so great to read your thoughts again! Yes, there is a dearth of respect these days. I’ve always tried to treat my son with respect as he’s grown up, and he is respectful (age appropriate) in kind. He learns a lot by modeling.

    One thing that has always bugged me (as much as racism) is treating children with a lack of respect just because they are young. They are little sponges and learn more by what they live than by what they are told to do (especially if there is a conflict between what they are told to do and what they see going on around them).

    I’ll get off my soapbox now. Welcome back!

    • Soapbox? Soapbox? I didn’t see no stinkin’ soapbox. I agreed with every word you typed. And, I appreciate the welcome back, Susan. I’m not really back – but I had to get these thoughts out. I am so way behind on reading your posts, too, and I apologize. At this point, I doubt I’ll go back to the point I stopped – but I do hope to read again soon. Seriously.
      Thank you for visiting in spite of my long absence and lack of reciprocation.

      • No worries! I am spending the summer sitting, healing a broken foot and torn tendon. Just had surgery, and I am healing. So, that’s all the excitement around here. Hope your boys are having a good time this summer.

  5. There is lack of respect for those trying to enforce the law, too. When did people learn to speed away rather than pull over to the side of the road when those blue lights flashed behind them?

    • Yes! The boy and I experienced that this morning, Patti. A ladder truck and ambulance were trying to get through an intersection. It saddens me to see folks not pull over. One day – their life might be the one on the line.

  6. It’s not just social media, but I think very much the way that we can tune our “feeds” to match our worldview. If I’m liberal or conservative, or green, or gun, or whatver… I have “news” networks that will cater to me and twitter feeds that will feed me things I like to hear — almost always from a polarized viewpoint. This lack of actual counterpoint and thoughtfulness makes anyone that disagrees with us “other”. We’ve lost the capacity to allow someone else to have a viewpoint that deviates from our own.

    • This is exactly why I follow folks who think differently … um… like you. (smile)
      I agree with what you said. Though even without social media, we tend to gravitate to those with like minds. And, when you find yourself mingling online or in person with someone of an unlike mind… respect should be given. Dare I say – respect should be given even when it isn’t received, as it may overpower the disrespect. (That’s the Pollyanna in me.)

  7. Yes, there is a lack of respect and this certainly goes a long way towards some of the underlying problems across the board. But I would say to some extent it is also a lack of respect for historical context.

  8. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Not because of Big Brother, though. Never seen the show, although I did see them go back in time (har) last night while flipping channels. No, Survivor more than handles of all my reality needs. Then I retreat safely back into my own little world.

    I heard about the racism incident on Big Brother, though. It was big news.

    I learned recently of an experiment where resumes were sent out. Those with “black sounding names” were 50% less likely to get a callback. I love simple experiments like this that expose the way things really are. We may think we have come a long way but we still have such a long, long way to go.

    I’m currently reading The Help. It’s not historical canon, but some of the stuff in there really blows my mind. I knew there was/is racism, but even I underestimated the disgusting way humans could treat each other. The things in that book make me feel naive and I always claim to know the true nature of the universe.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Sometimes there is peace in being naive – you know, the whole ignorance is bliss thing. Alas, sticking your head in the sand and pretending not to see it doesn’t fix it.
      It’s more than black and white, though – far more than black and white. In my opinion, anyway.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Mr. Abyss. 🙂

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