Confusing Notions About Respect


Lots of talk these days about respect, or really lack of respect, in public discourse.

I think a lot of people confuse and conflate “respect” with other ideas. Here are some thoughts adapted from a 3-year-old post and ideas I owe to my friend Eric Larsen.

When you step into the blue circle you agree to acknowledge the basic human dignity of EVERY person. Since you agree to stay in the circle, you also agree to avoid behaviors like bullying and name-calling which are outside the circle. (Being in the circle was a requirement for my classroom.)

big circle respect

If someone chooses to step outside the “respect” circle it’s a reflection of their behavior, not mine. But I still respect people whether they’re inside or outside the circle. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Respect means adopting some basic behaviors that apply to everyone, things like working together when possible and applying the Golden Rule.

Respect, admiration, trust, friendship, and agreement aren’t synonymous. There’s so much misunderstanding about these notions.

There are smaller circles within the “respect” circle. These indicate you won’t be buddies with everyone in the circle. That’s okay. You won’t admire, or trust, or agree with everyone.

I often question or disagree with people I admire and trust. I trust people I don’t necessarily consider friends.

Folks inside the circle don’t need to look, think, or act the same. They don’t need to hold the same beliefs. They need simply to look at every other individual as being entitled to basic human rights.

Respect isn’t about faith, worldview, nationality, race, patriotism, politics, or ideology. Respect is about being human.

The circle really represents agape, unconditional, sacrificial love. Different terminology for a classroom, but it’s Jesus’ answer to What’s the most important commandment?

What if we all filtered our news sources, Facebook comments, political opinions, and personal conversations – and perhaps our unspoken thoughts – based on doing our best to stay in the blue circle?

I think we’d change the world. We might even change our selves.