Lack of Respect

How Aware Are We Of What Goes On Around Us?

Recently some people I know were having a conversation about whether or not "the F word" has lost its power (power to shock, power to offend). It turned out that to some extent it has. I know that when I'm with my friends we use it a lot and no one seems to care. My wife uses it, I know a woman who drives a forklift for a living and curses like a sailor.

However, it turned out that it really does depend on who you are with or who's around. I wouldn't use it around my mother who would be really offended. She never washed out my mouth with soap or anything like that when I was a kid, she just took it as a lack of respect and seemed very sad that I didn't respect her. My step father on the other hand would have given me a smack if I had used it around her. That said, if it were just the two of us, well... he was a sailor ha ha ha. He had the same thought that cursing in front of my mother showed a lack of respect to her. While the word seems to be perfectly acceptable in a lot of company today, my mother's generation seemed to think that it was offensive to women and women behaved as if that were true. Some still do although they seem to be rarer today.

There are of course other controversial words. I have a running battle with a friend who thinks that he should be able to use the infamous "N word" whenever he likes. He thinks that since people of African descent use it, he should be able to use it. He thinks that telling him not to use it is a violation of his freedom of speech. I try to tell him that while, given freedom of speech, he is free to use it, if he were a sensitive person who cared about others, he would take into account the history of it's usage as a part of hundreds of years of oppression and refrain in order to avoiding hurting the feelings of people who may be within earshot. My next door neighbors are people of African descent and in the summer when the windows are open I do here them use it a lot. None-the-less, should they hear it drifting from my window because my friend is being thoughtless... well... they're my neighbors, not only don't I want them hurt, I don't want them as enemies.

So, apparently, the power of some words to hurt, offend or shock, depends on the people hearing them. One of the people in the "F word" conversation told a story about being in a line in a college cafeteria as a student and using the word casually and was shocked when he was pulled aside by the manager who made him apologize to the ladies working at the cafeteria for using the word around them. He was shocked that this had happened to him because, after all, it was just a word and one that he thought everyone uses. This got me to thinking. This guy probably wouldn't use "the F word" in front of his mother or grandmother any more than I would. Why did he think it was okay to use it in front of the cafeteria workers? The only answer that I could come up with was that he was probably blissfully unaware of them. How often are the people around us completely invisible to us? Especially people who are there as menial laborers. My friend who wants to use "the N word" probably looks around before using it just to see if it's going to cause trouble. (Not that he's the sort to temper his actions to avoid trouble, but, he wouldn't want to be taken by surprise.)

In any event, the title of this article is about lack of respect so I guess I should get to the point. Respect for my mother prevents me from cursing around her. Respect for other individuals demands that I should be aware that they are around me, and, that I should try as much as possible to be aware of their sensibilities. I would even go so far as to say that, if I can not quickly learn what their sensibilities are, I should use the maximum self restraint when dealing with them. This is a big thing because we usually don't know ourselves well enough to know when or what should be restrained. My wife for example doesn't particularly like to be hugged. She has her reasons that I won't go into here but... it's just her. Just about every time we meet someone we know, especially women, everyone hugs her. Her respect for them is such that she hugs them back and unless she knows them really well she doesn't complain about it. I know that people should be more aware that not everyone wants to be hugged so that we don't make people feel "put upon" or uncomfortable. That said, anyone who wants to can hug me ha ha ha.

If you spend some time trying to be aware of who is around you, what their special sensitivities may be and how you behave automatically (that maybe should be subject to restraint) you may find that this is harder than it sounds. Try it. It's tough. The question arises, why is this difficult? Well, my best guess has to do with two factors, well... maybe one factor in two facets. The first is of course our ego's. The ego tends to think that it's the only important thing in the world. We may have been raised not to think this way but, our sometimes invisible ego operates as if it's true anyway. That's one of the reasons we have internal dialogues about what the right thing to do is. The part of us that has some training in right and wrong argues with the part of us that knows "it's all about me".

That being the case, the more absorbed we are in what we are doing, whether that be work or play, the more the parts of us that are set on automatic are in charge of our behavior. So, the more totally focused you are on getting your errand run quickly and efficiently, the more likely you are not to notice other people in the store or what you might be doing that could show them a lack of respect. As a corollary to this, I would add that sometimes the wrong choice can turn into a habit. Sometime when we are absorbed in getting an errand run quickly we might make the decision to do something like, park illegally. This isn't unconscious, we tend to think about it. However, once done, we may be more likely to do it again and eventually we might not think about it and it might become unconscious. Even when we make that decision the first time though we may be completely unconscious of how our decision might negatively impact others.. aka.. the ego basking in it's own light rather than being mindful of others.

The second facet is that we tend to think that everyone is like us. From the examples above: perhaps the ladies that insist on hugging my wife like hugs, so, they assume that everyone likes hugs.... or.... the college student swearing in front of the cafeteria workers may have been from a family where "the F word" was never a big deal and he might have been completely unaware that some people could be greatly offended by it.

Well... if we do so much on automatic, and, it's hard to make ourselves aware of those around us, and self aware about our own behavior... I suppose some egos might want to ask "What's the big deal anyway? In public you're likely to be offended by something, so, get over it! I don't have the time, energy or inclination to be on guard for your sake. Besides, doesn't respect have to be earned?"

All I can do is disagree and point out that, if everyone showed everyone as much respect as they could, I think the world would be a happier place. When someone, purposely or just thoughtlessly disrespects us in public, don't we usually have a whole lot of negative emotions that well up in us... often effecting us for relatively long periods of time? If it didn't happen wouldn't we be happier? The more people who behave with respect for and awareness of each other, the less any of us have to deal with this negative upheavals. As to whether or not respect needs to be earned, I don't think so. I think that in a world of six billion people our only shot at living together happily is to automatically grant respect. I suppose that it is possible to loose respect for someone.. and in that case I suppose the person who lost respect needs to earn it back.. but.. I think that happens individual by individual and out in public respect needs to be a given.

All of that said, a case can be made that sometimes we are oversensitive to the thoughtlessness of others and I'll write something about that on my blog eventually and post the link here when I have.

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Comments 12 comments

gitrdun4444 profile image

gitrdun4444 5 years ago from North Carolina

Awesome hub in my opinion! There seems to be allot of disrespect for other people these days. Everyone is so wrapped up in their own little world. We should always be respectful of other people, funny, because we sure expect them to respect us! Yes, this would be a better world for sure. Thanks for this hub FIS, everyone needs to read it, and apply it.

Debbie


FIS profile image

FIS 5 years ago Author

Hi Debbie,

Read your profile, we are a lot alike. I'm also 48 and unemployed. I however don't have nine dogs... I have nine cats ha ha ha... if we got them together I'm sure we would see what lack of respect really looks like ha ha ha. Thanks for the comment.


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 5 years ago from Sweden

A very interesting hub! I think many of us sort of goes automatic in our way of living and we also tend to be totally absorbed by ourselves and our own thoughts. When I think of it, there isnĀ“t so many good listeners around and to get a sense of when we disrespect others with our behaviour we need to be able to listen to others. We need to try and see things from their view too. You covered this topic well and it is interesting how words can have different meaning to people based on their earlier experiences.

Tina


FIS profile image

FIS 5 years ago Author

Thanks for the comment Tina, I agree with you 100%. I think that doing things on automatic has it's place. How many daily chores would be hellish if we had to think through every detail every time? But, when interacting with others it becomes important that we stop being automatic and become conscious,and really.. when you think about it, how much of life do we miss out on by being on automatic? Today I had to drive somewhere and the route was lined with beautiful trees that were fully green for the first time this year and it was a joy to see them. I would like to be able to re-experience that joy every time I see them rather then let the experience become automatic if I drive that route a lot.

Bob


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

I had to learn to automatically not cuss because I was a waitress for a long time and cussing got you fired. So I learned that if I didn't cuss outsdie of work then I wouldn't think twice about not doing it at work. Now that I have a 3 yr old I that old habit of not cussing is coming in handy.

About respect...I think too many people believe they deserve respect without earning it or giving it back. That's a big issue I see. Nobody owes anybody anything, but it's also our job to be good citizens and I still like the saying do unto others as you would have done unto you. People ask me how I get my little girl to have manners and I say because I show them to her and give respect to her, saying thank and please to her so she does it to me and others. We are creatures of habit so doing things automatically will come from our habits.


FIS profile image

FIS 5 years ago Author

Hi Izetti... I appreciate your thoughts. I think we disagree on whether or not we automatically owe each other anything.

Just using respect as an example, if we don't automatically give each other respect, the world just becomes a tougher place to be in and it leaves us in a position of always trying to prove ourselves, which, might make some sense as far as trying to better ourselves goes, but ultimately leaves us no chance to be ourselves, because, really the only people who will respect us are people like us, or, people who we will amend ourselves to be around. It may also leave people who already feel hopeless with that much left to hope for.

If on the other hand, we work from the assumption that we do owe each other respect and follow up on that, not only is the world a better place from the get go.. but... we get to be respected for who we really are... and... those who in this life feel hopeless... may be given hope by the fact that they are respected. Just my opinion though..


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest

A general respect for humans is understandable, but I guess I'm referring more to when the general public treats each other with a sense of entitelment. many people act as if they can act any way they want and still expect respect. Yes, I would see that treating each other automatically with respect would be sensible, but there is a difference between what woudl be desirable and what actually happens. More times than not, I run into people who are rude at first contact and they certainly do not deserve my respect- in fact, I'll just avoid them and if I have to deal with them they get the simple respect of being a human being so I will talk to them in a neutral tone.

I see how the automatic respect theory works in my home and I dislike it. You see, my husband is ex military and in the military whoever yells the loudest deserves the most respect. But the main point is that in the military the man doing all the yelling and/or the superiors gain respect automatically. My husband often has this sense of entitlement from the military and he treats people poorly in public like a waitress who he feels owes him respect. I think if we all give respect freely, it will let people get away with treating each other poorly as well.

Many people decide to go into an authoritative career position to gain respect automatically because of a uniform, like police. And many of them have anger issues and believe they deserve respect without earning it.

I only believe in you treat me right and I'll treat you right. It starts with respecting ourselves or nobody else will.


FIS profile image

FIS 5 years ago Author

I understand your point completely, and it's a good point. I however would differ in that, I would respect everyone automatically but in the situations that you describe, I would loose that respect. While I don't think respect has to be earned, I think it can be very easily taken away. The fact of the matter is, people who think that their authority entitles them to anything are going to be a problem no matter which tac we take.

The word authority itself is funny in how widely misused it is. People confuse authority with power. An army officer has power over his subordinates,a boss has power of his employees. What does one have authority over? Only over what one has authored. So... basically, one's own children or works. Someone who treats me as one of their children looses my respect. People who treat others that way loose my respect. Heck, I can even loose respect for people who don't treat their children respectfully ha ha ha.

Maybe it's important to define respect. To me, respecting someone means that I don't think that their time, thoughts, feelings or well being are any less important than my own. Lack of respect would therefore be to inflate my own sense of importance.


TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 5 years ago from Tucson, Az.

The F bomb is a tricky word. I've always been careful using it. It has never been a part of my normal language. When I use it, I use it for effect. In other words, when Jim says fuck, everybody listens. The other stuff like the "N" word is maybe a little different. Respect is tricky, even fashionable, but good manners isn't. Good manners are ageless and show respect. That's how Mom raised me, and that's how I roll. Whether I'm right or not, who knows?

I'm embarrassed. You follow me, read me, and have been a good friend here on the hub. I haven't followed you, and haven't been reading you. That's typical of damn self absorbed ass, and that's going to change right now. I'm going to find that follow button and hook up.

This was an excellent piece of work, and I'm going to round you up some more followers over the next few days. You deserve them!

jim


FIS profile image

FIS 5 years ago Author

Ahh Jim... You don't need to make a special effort for me... I'm just glad you're around... besides... commenting on your Hubs has gained me a few followers.


FIS profile image

FIS 5 years ago Author

and for what it's worth.. most of my hubs are about comic books... kind of a niche.


TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 5 years ago from Tucson, Az.

Well you're a good dude, and although I may not admit it freely, you make me re examine myself and my takes. I have this image thing of the bullet proof man, and I've been there for so long, I don't know any way. I'll always be me, but you help me keep at least one foot on the ground. I'll have to deny saying that in public of course. (the image thing you know!) laughing .. Just kidding, but you DO make me think.

jim

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