Respect: Earned, Given or a little of Both?
By Rev. K.Dino Mangino
This past week I had a disagreement over respect with a friend. It was a small thing, but it somehow escalated into hurt feelings and no communication.
My friend, who for this story I’m going to call “Lincon” has a habit of invading personal space that it sometimes gets very uncomfortable for the people he’s around. According to him, when he feels uncomfortable, he likes to be close to people he feels comfortable to, which is a little weird for me, considering he’s 27 years old.
His habit is, standing in front of people and blocking their view, but standing within a foot in front of the person, sometimes with his back to you as you’re trying to watch something.
It’s a strange habit, but myself and a few other people have asked this person to be more mindful of others when moving around a crowd, and have respectfully asked him to not continue this behavior and have done this on multiple outings and at multiple locations.
The last time, this came to a head when Lincon went out with my friend Terry and me. To give some back history, Terry and Lincon used to work together and were associates who hung out outside of work. Lincon and I got to be friends because of their friendship- which over the past two years has cooled off a little due to some humor gone wrong on Lincon’s part, and Terry gets upset when Lincon is in his comedic mood and attempts to be the center of attention. Terry had asked in the past that Lincon respect his personal space and not get in his face, or stand in front of him.
So here we are out and about, Terry, Lincon and I, thought we’d stop by a mutual friends 1 year anniversary party. Things throughout the evening were fine, until Lincon started getting in his comedic mood and started his habit of standing in people’s personal space. He did this to Terry on a few occasions throughout the evening (Terry has a habit of finding a place he feels comfortable in and standing there most of the evening- his personal space…and Terry who was standing in the same place and hadn’t moved all evening before Lincon’s behavior started), another friend of our and eventually Me (who said something to him at the time about moving out of my way).
By the end of the evening, we went from having a great time and everyone getting along to Terry was pissed off, Lincon was antagonizing the situation- finally stopped talking and the car ride to drop those two off at their individual homes; let’s just say crickets chirping in the car would have been some welcome noise.
I dropped Terry off first and once he was out of the car, Lincon and I had a debate (he took it as an argument and we haven’t talked in 7 days as of writing this blog). Our debate was over mindfulness and respect.
When I mentioned my thoughts on what transpired over the evening, and what brought the evening to a head, Lincon wasn’t open to the idea, or even the possibility, that he was in the wrong- even though he was repeating the actions that multiple people have talked to him about, and that’s why Terry got upset.
What shocked me, and made me think about respect and writing this blog today was what I couldn’t believe that came out of Lincon’s mouth.
The fact that respect should be earned, he doesn’t respect Terry anymore because of how he’s felt treated in the past with Terry’s reactions to Lincon’s behavior, and that if Terry had an issue with it, he [Terry] should have been the one to move out of Lincon’s way (again, even though Terry had been in the same spot most of the evening).
What bothers me about the whole situation is that Lincon wasn’t even open to taking responsibility for how the evening ended because he no longer respects Terry. That if you don’t respect someone that you don’t have an obligation to act in a mindful and respectful manor around that person.
In my example, even though Lincon doesn’t like Terry anymore, out of consideration and being mindful of the situation he should have given Terry the respect as a person enough to acknowledge his past requests and not done actions which knowingly have upset Terry in the past.
Had he done this, who knows how the evening would have ended, but it could have ended better than one ticked off person and a debate which I felt disrespected in.
I think this is part of a larger problem and why I’ve noticed more and more issues in society happening lately with people just being so blatantly disrespectful. Look at all the Black Friday mess! Shooting, macing, fights- all over “things” and wanting- not respecting others humanity.
I’ve been hearing from more and more people that feel like they no longer need to show a basic respect for other humans, because they haven’t earned that respect.
In 1 Peter 2:17, Peter calls on us to “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, and honor the king.”
Showing respect and being mindful of others doesn’t mean you have to like them and interact with them on any level, it just means that they have the same rights as you do as a child of God, and God calls on us to respect one another as part of our nature and out of respect for God.
Blessings this December!
Any topics you’d like to see me to cover? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org