“We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.”
It really doesn’t matter if you agree with someone or not. How you treat another person should have no bearing on whether or not you happen to share the same opinions or perspective.
I have long followed a simple axiom when it comes to how I desire to treat others through my actions and behaviors. Very simply put it is to treat EVERYONE with dignity, honor and respect. I firmly believe that every person, regardless of who they are or what position they hold in life, deserves to be treated in accordance with these three simple words. If I fail to treat everyone in accordance with these principles then I fail to follow the commandment that Jesus gave in the book of Matthew. Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ‘ Matthew 22:37-40
It is worth taking a look at the definitions of these three words and think through how applying them in our interactions with every person we encounter conveys love for one’s neighbor.
Dignity: “To treat others with bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation. To convey nobility or elevation of character; worthiness: To convey appreciation for elevated rank, office, station, etc.”
Can you imagine our world if everyone treated others with an attitude of worthiness? A simple example of this is conveyed in how one listens to another person. Do you do so with the desire to hear and understand, or a desire to defend, argue and respond? The former conveys an attitude a worthiness, the latter does not.
Honor: “to show high respect for,” “to show a high regard for,” “honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions.” “To greatly value and appreciate.”
What would it be like if everyone lived with an intention to covey an attitude of appreciation of value for the other person? How would it make you feel if others showed this to you regularly? How does this manifest in our behaviors? An example might be in how we seek out the opinions of others to gain insight and perspective. Doing this intentionally conveys an appreciation for what a person brings to the conversation based on their unique set of life experiences. We honor them by seeking them out.
Respect: “To treat others with 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: to show regard or consideration for:“
How would our conversations go if everyone brought an attitude of respect to their relationships with others? A true desire to show regard or consideration for that person and convey to them that they are valued and worthy? How does this show up in our lives? An example of this could be as simple as how we communicate appreciation for what others do that contributes to our own lives or the lives of those around us. Simply saying “thank you” with genuine appreciation can convey respect for what another person brings to the table and what they are doing to make our own lives a little better.
All people are worthy of dignity, honor and respect regardless of position, station or calling. I am reminded of the last lines from the the song “Imagine” by John Lennon.
“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”
Living in this manner can be aspirational, and I know that I fail to adequately live up to my own standard on a daily basis, but it is the aspiration to do so that moves you closer to being able to “love your neighbor as yourself.”