Respect Is Not Difficult

With the society we live in today, judgment, hate, and ignorance can be found everywhere we go. The media often urges our generation to be the change we wish to see by becoming more open-minded and understanding of each other and our backgrounds. Instead, people often react by saying, “I’m just going to stay quiet” or “It’s not my problem.” Having a closed mind, however,  makes it harder to be open and accepting of others’ opinions.

The key is to practice empathy. Doing that will allow us to walk in the shoes of our peers and have a better view of someone else’s perspective. To do this, we might celebrate the good news with a friend or offer condolences when someone’s family member passes away.

To Isa Harris, ‘19, empathy means understanding someone and having compassion for them. “Empathy is in everyone’s lives, but I apply it by reaching out to others and trying to understand their feelings,” Harris stated. “People appreciate when you make an effort to be there for them, so by opening yourself up to them and showing you care, it brings the best out of people.”

Another way to start respecting others is to start with respecting ourselves. By realizing our own worth, we can appreciate the goodness in ourselves and see that other people may share the same qualities.

“I think that when you have standards for yourself and you realize that you deserve people in your life who prove that they earn your friendship, you are, in a way, respecting others,” Ana Chandlee, ‘21, said. “For an example, if you’re looking for good friends, you automatically have the expectation for yourself to be a good friend back. Whatever you value in a friendship is also what you put into it, and if you carry good traits that a good friend does, then I think you are respecting yourself.”

Finally, one of the many keys we can use to start respecting others is putting ourselves out there. Distancing ourselves and excluding others is no way to give a friendly welcome to someone we aren’t close with. A simple greeting or smile of acknowledgment in the hall is sometimes all it takes to brighten someone’s day.

Isaac Ripley, ‘20, models this by not being picky about who his friends are and trying to be friends with everyone. “I think everyone is unique in their own way, and I’m not going to segregate myself to a certain group of people when there are so many other people I can also talk to and be friends with,” Ripley stated. “Don’t be one-sided. People tend to think they have to seclude themselves from other groups of people because of their interests or friends they already have, but that’s false. You’ll miss out on other fun things that have the potential to be life-changing.”

By having empathy, respecting ourselves, and putting ourselves out there, respect can become easy for any of us to have. We don’t have to stop there though. Getting involved with the community, finding a new hobby or activity, or even going to church with the family are other simple ways to discover the person we want to be.

Maya Angelou once said, “If we lose love and self-respect for each other, this is how we finally die.” The possibilities are endless, and our generation is the future with the power to change things for the better.