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Have Some Respect

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The news of the passing of iconic musician Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” and a key figure in the civil-rights movement, leaves a big hole in my psyche. Franklin was so much a part of my own adolescence and personal belief system. Today, her most well-known song, “Respect,” has more significance than many of us may care to acknowledge. My observation over my six decades is that in all walks of life, and in all cultures, there tends to be a lot less respect for others.

In addition to reminding us of the importance of respect, Franklin, as an activist, was someone who truly defined the American experience — her joy, pain, and enthusiasm reverberated in each of her songs. She also creatively and gently tapped into the darkness and the light that we all face on a regular basis.

Some years ago, I was blessed to attend an Aretha Franklin concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl, and by far, it was one of the best concerts I’d ever attended. Not only did her lyrics seem to resonate with everyone there, but her spirit and joie de vivre was contagious. Within no time, she had the entire audience dancing in their seats. In passing, she referred to her illness, without making it her cause. She did say that it might be her last concert, but none of us wanted to believe her. She seemed immortal in so many of our eyes.

“Respect” has always been one of my favorite songs, and in many ways, a part of me also believes that it should become our new national anthem. Many don’t know that the song was actually written by Otis Redding, famous for “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” but it was edited and tweaked by Franklin, offering an original female perspective. In more general terms, respect may be defined as feeling or showing honor for someone else or something. It’s about honoring someone’s feelings and giving them permission to be.

As many people worldwide, in various political and social tiers, struggle with disrespect and with humans hurting other humans emotionally and physically, Franklin’s song is a poignant reminder of the importance of respect in all realms of life. This means joining hands and honoring human life, other people’s world views, and Mother Nature. If we are to survive and live in harmony, then showing respect is a vital call to action for our world today.

A 2007 article in the Washington Post written by Patricia Dalton, a clinical psychologist, shares the sad truth that youth show an increasing lack of respect toward adults — their position, their power. As someone who works with kids, she said that not only are children not afraid of their parents, but parents seem to be afraid of their kids, and what a scary thought that is. The home has become a democracy, and nobody wants to have control over anyone else, which is contrary to the way it was during my own childhood. Dalton concluded that we should worry less about whether our kids are happy all the time, and worry more about whether we’re enjoying them and ourselves . . . in other words, let’s resurrect “Father and Mother Know Best.”

Here are some things to consider when cultivating respect in your own life:

· Be polite.

· Respect differences among people.

· Show lovingkindness.

· Respect other people’s belongings.

· Honor each person’s personal space.

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