REFLECT UPON THIS: What The World Needs Now… Respect @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA @JohnJFioravanti @NonnieJules #Quotes

“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

~ Barack Obama

Barak Obama head shot

As a retired secondary school educator, I am a firm believer in lifelong learning, and it need not take place in a formal classroom. Today, the Internet allows anyone who is curious to discover information and analysis about any topic they can imagine. It is in the context of the lifelong learner that I wish to reflect on President Barack Obama’s words quoted above from his final State of the Union Address on January 12, 2016.

In my study of history, I realize that human progress does not occur in a linear pattern and that often we regress on the way to positive growth. In some very tangible ways, we are experiencing a regression in our behaviour towards others today. News headlines from around the globe give testament that division and polarization around extreme ideas and attitudes are fuelling discord and conflict between us.

At the root of this discord is a startling lack of respect for others. What do I mean when I speak about respect? The teacher in me goes directly to the dictionary and in my case, several dictionaries. I was dismayed to find the term defined as having a high or special regard for someone. This definition is far too narrow. What about the man who lives down the street from me? I don’t know his name or anything about his talents, skills, accomplishments, attitudes or beliefs. So what am I to hold in high regard? What about all the people in the world with whom I’ve never been in contact? Do I respect them because their country is powerful or wealthy? Perhaps, but how do I approach a stranger with respect?

I began to understand the essential concept of respect when I came across the phrase, “to consider worthy…” The lights came on, and I knew I had found my elusive key. Every human being must be considered worthy of the same freedoms that I desire, worthy of consideration,  of assistance when needed, and fair treatment. We are all worthy of being free from prejudgment based on physical traits, age, culture, and beliefs; of having the opportunity to live in a healthy environment and to be successful. Most importantly, respect means being considered worthy of equal treatment.

The polarization I spoke about earlier has driven many of us to demonize anyone who disagrees with us. We see this unfolding each day in the United States as Republicans and Democrats have no kind words for each other. Fear brought on by years of terrorist attacks causes us to regard Middle Eastern people with suspicion and distrust. They are the enemy! Protect the country by closing our borders! These things are happening in many places around the globe, not just in America. Yet America, a nation that has held itself up to the world as a beacon of hope for over two hundred years is now projecting rancour, disrespect, and bullying. Fair or not, if something happens in the U.S.A. the whole world knows about it quickly. My country, Canada, is guilty of many of the same things, but the world rarely hears about it because we’re just… Canada – no big deal.

I also understand that societal or global change begins within an individual and spreads from there. Upon introspection, I’m not pleased with what I see in my heart, my words, and my attitudes. Before I can respect other persons, I must accept their humanity and see them as worthy beings. I don’t do that when I demonize and dehumanize people who anger or upset me. I don’t have to agree with them to be respectful, but if I accept another person as a worthy human being, I must find better ways to express my disapproval, disagreement, or dismay with another’s choices or beliefs. As a writer and blogger, I have not done well in this regard. In my own way, I have participated in the politics of division that Obama warns us against.

President Barack Obama’s speech contains wisdom and truth. I need to step back and consider his words carefully. We have clear evidence around us that divisiveness and polarization exist between people today, people in our own countries and between people around the globe. This makes us weak and ineffective. We have lost sight of the main reason why humans created civilizations back in antiquity – to work together in peace to survive, build robust economies, and express our humanity, our very soul, through the arts. Our diversity is our strength! Ethnocentrism is the belief that holds one culture or ethnic group superior to all others. That is intellectual arrogance at its worst! I may espouse liberal ideas and policies, but I need to consider the conservative positions of others. When we do battle over these things, we all lose!

If we fail to accept others as worthy beings, then we have failed to respect them and ourselves. If I demonize you for something you said or did, I have disrespected myself. Without respect, there is no building for tomorrow. There will be no working together for the common good. I need to learn to respectfully disagree and criticize, and then put forward my ideas with humility. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom because we have different perspectives – and those perspectives can help us arrive at the best solutions.

I need to do better.

My friends, I was honoured to be named the 2020 RWISA “SUPREME” Book Award Grand Prize Winner for my first collection of REFLECTIONS.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the reflection above from my upcoming second grouping of interpretations in REFLECTIONS II.  Today, my first collection is being hosted over at Watch Nonnie Write!  I hope that you’ll drop by to soak up the reflection, “DON’T TRIP ON YOUR WAY TO GREATNESS!”  
 
Reflections II Book Cover

BOOK BLURB FOR REFLECTIONS II

The word inspiration is derived from the Latin word inspirare which means to breathe into. It occurs when someone is filled with the desire to do something creative. While some cast aspersions on the existence of inspiration, I doubt that there is anyone alive who has not experienced this uplifting phenomenon. I call it uplifting because an inspiration lifts us to new or greater effort to do something – even if that something is to think about a topic in a different way.

I believe that inspiration is real and it is essential to the well-being of the human condition. This book is the product of inspiration. After the original volume Reflections: Inspirational Quotes and Interpretations was published, I was moved by the reaction of many readers to create a second volume. In their own words, these people claimed they were inspired to consider the selected quotes in the light of their own life experiences.

In Reflections II, inspiration has come full circle.

Leave a comment on this post or on Nonnie Jules’ post and your name will be entered to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card!

 

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

33 thoughts on “REFLECT UPON THIS: What The World Needs Now… Respect @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA @JohnJFioravanti @NonnieJules #Quotes”

  1. John, well done my friend. I love these two sentences, in particular:

    “Ethnocentrism is the belief that holds one culture or ethnic group superior to all others. That is intellectual arrogance at its worst! ”

    I agree it is an “arrogant” rationalization that has been used throughout the history of mankind. One island nation invades another because of fear, so they rationalize it as we are better than they are. Nazis exterminated Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals, because they believed the Aryan race is pure and elitist. American whites used Jim Crow laws and lynching to keep African-Americans under their thumb. American whites also seized land from Native Americans as they used genocide to pare the ranks.

    It is 2021. We must highlight this arrogance and wrongness of elevating one group at the expense of others. Those that do so are not following God’s work, they are following that other dude. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by to comment, Keith. Unfortunately, American whites have no monopoly on bigotry and hate as we have similar problems here in Canada. I think we must deal with these issues by looking inward, recognizing our own drawbacks and resolve to think and behave differently. We must be catalysts for change in our own personal lives and not wait for legislators to solve society’s problems.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I struggle with the problem of respect every say, John. Speaking in general terms I respect every living being on this planet, and elsewhere, if there are living beings elsewhere. But when it comes to specifics, like people who go around ripping hsjabs and burka off Muslim women”s heads, people who believe they are not wrong to hate, how does one respect the perpetrators?
    It is all well and good to say you respect even our enemies, then I have to wonder if we are being truthful with ourselves. I would like to be able to respect others do not respect anyone except those in their own little circles. Notice I disrespected them in calling their cirvles–that is done in hope their circles are small. I know they are not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your honest and thoughtful response, Rawgod. You have touched upon one of the thorniest issues people face when confronted by the teaching “love your enemies.” Somehow, we need to direct our anger at the bad behaviour and not at the person. That doesn’t mean acceptance of their beliefs and behaviour, but we have to avoid the demonization that too many of us (myself included) aim at those we see as adversaries. I wish I had a better answer because I struggle to respect the extremists who do harm and the willfully ignorant who believe it is their sacred right to demonize all who disagree with them. I struggle against the resulting hopelessness and depression.

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      1. But, for most of them, their behaviour is them. Their choices are their choices. They will make the same choice 99 out of 100 times. I will say it might be a taught or learned response, but they have no urge to change it. They have no urge to be better.
        Kind of like Jill would rather be a wolf than a human, I like being human but I would rather live with penguins, except I hate eating fish or other creatures of the sea. Penguins are very thoughtful beings, meditating for hours at a time, playing but not hurting anyone–but their food, and that is a natural necessity. Not that I wanted to see them out of their natural environment, but I used to watch them for hours on end in the Vancouver Zoo. They are the most peaceful creatures I have ever encountered. They had at lest two species in the penguin habitat, and never once did I see any sign of speciesism. From them I learned to be a pacifist.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Our friend John Fioravanti hasn’t posted for quite a while, but when he did yesterday, it was a post worthy of being shared far and wide. John is kinder than I am, but his words resonate with me, as I believe they will with you. His post is moving and thought-provoking, worthy of some deep thought about how we, as humans, can do better. Thank you, John!

    Liked by 1 person

                1. You’re welcome, Jill. I have to say that following the political goings-on in the USA over the past 5 years has been a depressing experience. I’m disgusted beyond words that Moscow Mitch and friends are prepared to let their fellow Americans rot in poverty and hunger in order to block the Biden agenda. Things aren’t perfect up here, but our system will not allow a dictatorship by a minority to happen. Nor do provincial Conservative governments pass legislation to suppress voter turnout. So, come to Canada where democracy is still working to some degree!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. The U.S. political landscape is indeed depressing. Our Congress is dysfunctional, whatever President Biden tries to do will be blocked by an unsavory element known as ‘republicans’, and now our right to vote is being threatened. Once the pandemic allows, I may seriously consider relocating to Canada …

                    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a moving, thought-provoking post, my friend! None of us is perfect and we will all err sometimes. I err far more than most, for I have a temper that often allows me to engage my mouth (or fingertips on the keyboard) before my brain. Yes, we must try to do better — all of us — but with the understanding that sometimes we will fail in the effort. Good post and I shall share it. Thanks, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jill, I am humbled by your kind remarks. I hope I can overcome the negativity that has invaded my mind over the past year and begin writing more regularly again. Yes, we will experience setbacks, but the only failure we will have is if we quit.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Of late, I think that I talk the talk, but I’m not walking the walk. What am I doing, really, besides complaining about the way things are? But, you’re right … I’m not going to give up as long as I have a heartbeat left. I think everyone needs a Nonnie!!!

            Like

          2. John, the reason I’m always giving you that swift kick is because you’re much too talented to let that gift go to waste. What you have been blessed with, MUST be shared with the world. I refuse to let you keep that all to yourself. You INSPIRE so many – and if you don’t know that by now, I’ll be here reminding you of it until that light bulb clicks on.

            Now get back to writing! (Whip cracks in the background)

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I chose this quote from John’s upcoming REFLECTIONS II for him to blog here today. I did so, more for myself, as well as for others who would read it. John, when you say that “None of us has a monopoly on wisdom because we have different perspectives,” no truer words were ever spoken. Although I never attempt to try and turn someone else’s opinions into mine, I admit to being firmly staid in my own opinions and truths, and although I am able to “sometimes” see the other side, I find that I am quite often asking God for more opportunities for me to show more grace towards others when they don’t see things my way.

    What I love about John’s reflections and his writing, is that he is unafraid to lay bare all of his demons and own his faults. Witnessing that vulnerability, always opens the door for me to walk through and do the same.

    John, you are an inspiration to me, as I know you are to so many others who have ever witnessed your penning of even one sentence!

    You are greatness, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, John. One of my favorite scriptures, and the one I have the most trouble with, is Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV)
    “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” As one who tends to lash out in anger, learning to stay quiet until a more rational mindset can take over has been difficult for me. Your reflection of the quote above was spot on and applicable to all of us, regardless of which side of the issues we’re on. I look forward to reading the rest of your new book!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This resonates so well with me, John. I do everything I can to never speak when I am angry or hurt because I know from experience that the words will not come out effectively. Too often, people feel the need to lash out at the person(s) who has hurt or angered them, and those words can never be taken back. No matter how “right” one thinks his/her perspective is, retaliation always injures both parties.

    Congratulations on your well-earned award! I look forward to reading part two! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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