Sunday, November 13, 2011

What is the Matter with Us?

Recently I heard that the First Lady was booed at NASCAR Event promoting "Joining Forces" a program to support Military families. It seems to me that there is now no lower limit on how disrespectful we can be.

I believe that much of this disrespect stems from a common root cause. Whatever the social ill: booing the wife of a president, political gridlock, bullying, class warfare, sexual aggression, human trafficking, ethnic, religious, and racial hatred, it all stems from a lack of respect. Obviously a lack of respect for others, but less obviously, a lack of respect for ourselves. As human beings, we should recognize our common humanity, our common vulnerabilities and our need for mutual support.

We may not and most likely cannot respect all the actions of our fellow humans, but at least we can acknowledge their humanity. It amazes me how quickly that we, who consider ourselves "nice", civil, and even religious people, can so easily go from laughing with others to laughing at others. How quickly we disdain those who think differently than us, who believe differently, or who have fallen into some misfortune of circumstance or personal weakness.

For those of us who consider ourselves believers, how much more that awareness should be. In the book of Genesis, we read that human beings are "created in the Image of God". If we are believers and premise human existence on that statement, then we must accept that we and every other human being has infinite value. If each human being has infinite value, then they are entitled to respect. If we believe the "Good Book" and accept it as the explanation of our present existence and future hope, then we should take heed to the Psalm:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers...

For those who are not religious, but otherwise consider themselves "respectable" people, then consider this quote from Immanuel Kant:
“Men are respectable only as they respect.”

It is not a great distance from occupying the "seat of mockers" to becoming the object thereof.