My parents always told me to treat people with consideration, compassion and respect. That guidance was occasionally amended to include – “whether they deserve it or not.” That has always served me and I try to do it, tried to raise my son the same way, and try to model that behavior. I think it made me a better person and I like to think that others noticed.
I always start out with the intention in my personal life and my professional life to show respect and I expect it in return. While it hasn’t always been the case that respect has been returned – the frequency has trended in a most unwelcome direction. I think that everyone is equal and therefore worthy of my respect. It doesn’t matter how much someone makes, how educated they are or where they live. No one is intrinsically better because of the color of their skin or where (or whether) they worship.
I wonder what my folks would make of things today. When people in leadership roles try to get away with as much as they possibly can, disputing facts, and taking advantage of others. The kind of decency I was raised to maintain might be seen as unwise and naïve. Civility doesn’t seem to be valued like it once was. Not on social media and not out in our communities.
Does it feel to you that dishonesty has replaced truthfulness and thoughtlessness has replaced tact? It isn’t just a social polarization – it’s a collective insensitivity that erodes social interaction and genuine, open, and respectful conversation. There is no longer a shared understanding that we should respect one another.
It appears that what others do doesn’t really matter, even if they are in leadership positions. My parents used to ask “If that person jumped off a bridge, would you?” What they were really asking was ‘If someone you admire does something wrong/dumb/foolish, would you disregard what you’ve been taught, and what you know to be right?’
Things have changed – and things can change again. Now is the time to bring more people into the discussion. Decency matters.