Respect and disrespect

The Way I See It by Don West

don’t recall seeing or hearing about “protests” but there has probably never been a young person who hasn’t rebelled or protested because of something they deemed to be unfair. If forced to dig a ditch, complete a homework assignment, attend a social or civic function, get a job, join an organization, rake the yard, cut the grass, or clean up their bedroom, then certainly there must have been protesting.

When I was young, though we protested, the rebellion only lasted a few minutes, and it wasn’t very loud.  Maybe a little whining, then resolve to prevent further damage to ego or person. In other words, we mostly did what we were told out of respect for those who made the demands but always with a thought of diminishing the prospect of further damage such as loss of privileges or the thought of some part of one’s body being assaulted.

When I became aware of people flouting authority, I suppose the first time I noted it was while I was thousands of miles away in a little known area of Southeast Asia. Though the military attempted to hide any negative news or action from us, word always filtered down through channels, and though the facts may have been somewhat eschewed, the rumors flew. I, of course, did see and hear some personal protesting against “the establishment” when the hippie generation began to rear its ugly drug-embellished head. I was on a college campus and the formal education I was supposed to be receiving was overshadowed by real life. As hair grew long, music changed and manner of dress, behavior, and attitudes became something foreign to me, I knew that I didn’t want to be a part of that “new generation.” 

I guess I have always been about discipline, and my world of order seemed to be dissolving into chaos when those around me began to flout authority. All of a sudden, there was a loss of respect for established norms of society and language, behavior and morals became the casualties of this new generation. Women burned their bras and men burned their draft cards and I was adrift in a world I didn’t recognize.

I recall leaving college for the summer and, upon returning for the fall semester, encountered a kid who I knew from the previous year. He seemed normal enough, clean cut, rational, reasonably honorable and mannerly.  When I saw him again, something must have changed him over the summer; he went to wearing a robe (like Jesus) and carrying a staff-looking stick that he held out in front of himself while walking down the street, and his hair was now down to nearly his waist and he had lost his sense of cleanliness (he stunk). When I spoke to him, he seemed to be in a daze (I had never encountered anyone on drugs at the time) and he seemed to be lost in a world that I didn’t recognize, but was sure I didn’t want to participate in. I knew then that college life was not a path where I would remain. 

I opted for the military, where there was still at least a bit of order and discipline. I quickly learned that if someone said “duck” or “get down” or “hit the deck,” one didn’t ask why. By the time the answer came, you may be dead. That’s why you teach children to “stop” immediately when told. It is to prevent them from harm.  They should not be allowed to ask why but to only follow the order “stop”. It is called parenting.

When I see in the media these young people of today’s society who have their own manner of protesting and their own agendas, I see a repeat of that which took place over 50 years ago and wonder if it is also a repeat of those protesters who dumped tea in the Boston harbor. The difference today is that there is much less respect for life. The other difference is that somewhere along the line, this new group of protesters has determined that they have been or are being disrespected. That cannot be. First, one must earn respect. Most of those who have been flaunted in the media have never done anything that demands respect.

The flag flies and the anthem plays because thousands have made sacrifices that allow the protesters to protest. That, my friend, is not disrespect. Disrespect is when you do not acknowledge those liberties and those who made the sacrifices for your freedoms. 

Stand up. Place your hand over your heart. Face the flag and acknowledge the fact that you have not earned those privileges. They were granted to you through the blood, sweat and tears of others.

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Posted by on Sep 21 2017. Filed under Editorial Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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