Just about everybody knows the song by Aretha Franklin that spelled out one powerful word that much of today's generation seems to have forgotten all about: RESPECT. After hearing about the Tuba City Fire House recently being set on fire by an individual from the Tuba City community - who also happened to be a former volunteer - I can't help but wonder whether or not this person was ever taught the meaning of respect.
Or, in looking at the bigger picture, just how many others like this person are out there?
By definition, respect is simply consideration or thoughtfulness or someone or something. It's been said that respect should be earned, but I also feel that respect is something that is taught in the home by parents and/or grandparents. Unfortunately, however, due to a number of often controllable circumstances - including rampant drug and alcohol abuse that has all but entrapped multiple generations within many reservation families - some of the most basic family values become lost to the rapture of a drunken stupor or chemically-induced high.
And so, many of our young children go out into the world without a shred of decency or common sense to know right from wrong, least of all to show respect where it is deemed appropriate.
My parents and grandparents taught me a simple credo that I live by to this day. I believe the Bible states it more formally as, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." Quite simply, I would interpret it as "To get respect, you must first show respect."
This goes back to respecting yourself. Over time, I seem to have discovered and seen for myself that most abusers of controlled substances, whether it's alcohol or drugs, enter into a virtual realm in which they feel the only way to gain some degree of self-respect is to induce it artificially with alcohol and/or drugs. But in doing so, they don't realize that this artificial sense of respect actually promotes the opposite, leading them to do or say things they normally wouldn't do or say otherwise, such as vandalism of property, domestic violence and child abuse. In some cases, it becomes deadly and people end up being killed.
Recent newspaper headlines such as "Street alcoholic hit by car dies" scream silently at us as our own apathy compels us to do one of two things: do something about it, or ignore it. Most of the time, we simply choose to ignore it because it's so much easier. But when we do, we end up losing sight of the most obvious; that being that when we choose to disrespect people in this regard, we ultimately end up disrespecting ourselves.
Consider the many circumstances and people we are faced with each and every day of our lives. Some of the people we interact with can appear to be very respectable people, perhaps possessing degrees from some of the finest educational institutions around and earning a six-figure salary. But is this person any more deserving of our respect than someone who comes from a broken home, who flunked out of high school and is a recovering alcoholic or drug abuser that is working two jobs earning minimum wage to support his/her family?
Perhaps in time, respect will once again replace DISrespect; honor will replace DIShonor; interest will replace DISinterest, all of which will lead to a newfound self-discovery.