Remember the lesson from The Good Eggs: Respect is deserved not earned. We must all do our part to make it a reality in the world.
The Golden Rule
A general rule in the world is to treat others as you would want to be treated. No one has a copyright on this teaching. It crosses all religions, cultures, and people. It might just be the single-most common saying in our world. We believe this axiom, but do we practice it in our daily lives?
Many have finished the line “The measure of a person is…” If you think deeply about it, isn’t the only true ending of that line “…how he or she treats others?” It doesn’t have to read, “The measure of a person is how he or she approves of a person’s actions, lifestyle, decisions, attitude, political stance, or value system,” but regardless of those things, the person is still respected as a human being.
Modeling the Virtue
So how do we model this virtue for our kids? We can start by making a full-hearted effort to not judge others solely on their actions, words, and behaviors. The last three virtues we looked at, love, acceptance, and respect, flow from one another. We can start by loving others. Again, we don’t have to like their actions, but we do need to love them within our hearts.
Where Did All the Innocence Go?
When we get to the point of loving others for whom they are, we can then accept them. We don’t have to agree with them, but we must respect them as a human being. Deep down, don’t most parents want this for their children? We want our children to be loving, accepting, and respectful.
The ironic thing is that many children are already pretty good at these three virtues. Something happens to us as adults – maybe it is just experience – that causes us to sometimes lose the innocence of our childhood, making us more selective and judgmental with these virtues.
How Do Others Want to be Treated?
Ask your child how they think a particular person wants to be treated. Use an example of someone your child knows, possibly a friend at school. Then, think of categories of people like the elderly, the poor, the uneducated or under-educated, the imprisoned, people with disabilities, the bullied, bullies, etc. This can turn into another terrific dinner conversation.
Try This . . .
Go around the dinner table inviting family members to think of someone who wants to be treated with respect and ask why. Some discussion will surely follow. “How well does our world respect these and others?” “What more can be done?” In the end, your child will realize that respect often starts with one’s self.
Next month we will explore the virtue of Responsibility.
Can you believe it’s going to be May? : )
S. Ciara Mitaro