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!

 

Tell The World… You’re Good Enough!

“And above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning.”

~ Isaac Asimov

I turn to Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), an American giant in the science fiction genre in the Twentieth Century, to consider his opinion about a person’s self-worth. He was a multi-talented, well-educated man, and was an able public speaker – often attending science fiction conventions where he proved to be friendly and approachable. Continue reading “Tell The World… You’re Good Enough!”

If Not Courage, What Do You Have?

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

~ Maya Angelou

Tune in to the RAVE WAVES BlogTalkRadio show, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE where this post is the topic of a lively discussion. This is a production of Rave Reviews Book Club.

RW - Aspire to Inspire

  Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014) is one of the most celebrated women, black or white, in American history. This multitalented woman achieved excellence in everything she put her mind and heart into. She won awards internationally as an author, poet, and made significant contributions in the fields of screenwriting, acting, singing and directing. Being raised amid racism and victimized sexually as a child gave her a burning desire to right social wrongs, so she became a social activist and good friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Maya Angelou’s life was a model of courage and inspiration. Continue reading “If Not Courage, What Do You Have?”

How Disabled Are We?

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”

~ Stephen Hawking

Born in 1942 and suffering from early onset ALS, English scientist and author, Stephen Hawking, has gradually become paralyzed over the years. Today, he speaks with the help of a device attached to his cheek muscle. The disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, began to manifest itself during his university years, but it did not stop him from becoming one of the world’s most renowned cosmologists. He described himself as both determined and obstinate while he doggedly struggled to maintain a normal life as the disease worsened. He became a popular scientific writer with his best-selling book,  A Brief History Of Time. Continue reading “How Disabled Are We?”

How Critical Is Optimism?

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

~ Helen Keller

Helen Keller (1880-1968) was an American author, political activist and public speaker. She was the first person, both deaf and blind, to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The play and film, The Miracle Worker, recount the now-famous story of how Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through her disabilities and taught her to communicate with the world. As a member of the Socialist Party of America, she campaigned for women’s suffrage and other social causes. Continue reading “How Critical Is Optimism?”

Excuses Are Cop-Outs!

“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.”

~ Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was an English social reformer and is attributed to be the founder of modern nursing. She came to prominence as the manager of nurses during the Crimean War (1853-1856). Her nursing experience on this war front brought her face to face with staggering death tolls due more to horrid hygienic conditions in the field hospitals than any other cause. She took it upon herself to tackle this problem by lobbying the British government to fund the necessary changes and equipment. The results were nothing short of miraculous! Continue reading “Excuses Are Cop-Outs!”

Rejection’s Not Bad – Accept It!

“As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.”

~ Steve Mariboli

 

Tune in to the RAVE WAVES BlogTalkRadio show, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE where this post is the topic of a lively discussion. This is a production of Rave Reviews Book Club.

RW - Aspire to Inspire

Dr. Steve Maraboli is a highly successful American author, coach and mentor who calls himself a Life-Changing Speaker. His doctorate is in the behavioural sciences and he is described as the most quoted man alive. This quote interested me because Dr. Steve is talking about rejection, and like many other people, I have always feared rejection by people I want to join or to be with. Continue reading “Rejection’s Not Bad – Accept It!”

I Gotta Be Me… What You Gotta Be?

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau (1817-1862) was an American author, poet, and philosopher from Massachusetts. Liberal in his thinking, he was an abolitionist and advocated civil disobedience to an unjust government. His views often separated him from mainstream American thinking of his day, but Henry David Thoreau had the courage of his convictions. He was prepared to go to jail rather than back down from his beliefs – and he did. Continue reading “I Gotta Be Me… What You Gotta Be?”

Why Endure The Darkness?

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”

~ Og Mandino

The wording of this quote is interesting. Mr Mandino does not say, “I love the light…”, but rather, “I will love the light…” He’s speaking of an act of the will, a conscious decision to love the light, and, he gives his rationale – because it shows him the way. Continue reading “Why Endure The Darkness?”

Do You Wake Up In Your Greatness Each Morning?

“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.”

~ Paul (Bear) Bryant

 

Paul Bryant, a successful college football coach over many years at the University of Alabama, knew something about what it takes to be a winner. His formula for victory has many familiar elements: dedication, pride, and the courage to persevere and never quit. I read also, that he once said that even after you achieve a particular goal, you don’t quit – you set a new goal and keep working. That last line was important to me because it put the idea of quitting as something a person should never entertain.

Continue reading “Do You Wake Up In Your Greatness Each Morning?”

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