The Return of Respect and A Pledge of Civility
Assuming Our Responsibility
It is time for the American people to return to respect, but the early days of this journey will jar us and shake us and cause us to see what we have done. The tendency is to blame our leaders for the lack of civility. Their words are like fists that strike blows and wedges that separate us one from another. However, no one walks up the steps of the Capitol and assumes a seat in Congress. Each representative, senator and president is voted into office.
We vote for them. We put them there.
Here is what we have done. We heard their divisive rhetoric and voted for them anyway. Their behavior was such that we would shield the eyes of our children from what they have done and are doing, and we voted for them again. Radio and television hosts openly lie and exaggerate events, and we continue to listen to their verbal assaults, lifting their ratings and insuring them of sponsorship.
Causes, Not Effects
In one of the early blogs of FOR THE PEOPLE, I stressed the need to do our work in the arena of cause rather than effect. “The Return to Respect” is an echo of the words I wrote several weeks ago. In this instance, to work with causes is to work with and within ourselves. One thing I have learned through the years is that people who disrespect others lack respect for themselves.
We have a choice. We can choose leaders who respect themselves or those who do not. We can listen to the voices of those who respect themselves or those who do not.
We the people are not helpless. We can lead the return to respect by ceasing to vote for people who lack respect of others rooted in their lack of respect for themselves. We can stop listening to programs and commentators and hosts that speak and behave in ways we would not want our children to hear or observe. This does not restrict the rhetoric of others; it simply means that we do not have to give attention to what they say.
Leading Our Leaders
It is time for us to lead our leaders, and if they will not listen to us, we will through our constitutional right elect leaders who respect themselves.
I envision a time—now—when we will gather around principles such as the ones espoused in “The Return to Respect.” The principles will be like the light of a campfire, and it will illumine us. Our current leaders may continue to see us blindly following a path of disrespect, but the path will no longer exist, and they will not be reelected.
New leaders who reflect our new attitudes about one another and our government will resonate with the new direction for the country that we have set. And there will be change. Washington will be shaken, but not as others have predicted. Strange, but it will be respect and civility that like waves of an earthquake will shake the pillars of our country and a new America will rise, the America that our founding fathers envisioned.
A Pledge of Civility
Let this begin with a pledge, A Pledge of Civility. Join me for 40 days of self-respect. Hopefully, the forty days will establish a pattern for the rest of our lives. During the 40 days, I will not call any of our political leadership by names, either in public or in my household. (Do you hear the silent message of what I have been doing and how I have disrespected myself?)
That’s it. It seems simple. It is a beginning, but I can already sense that by taking A Pledge of Civility, an inner struggle will ensue. Most likely, the names and derogatory terms I have used in the past will surface in my mind again. Perhaps a pressure will build because I am not releasing and expressing what fills my mind; however, I envision something new happening—that as labeling, judging, condemning and plain ol’ name calling subsides, I will see clearly. I will take responsibility for what I have done and the lack of civility I have created. I could not have done more harm to my country if I were a spy.
I say again, the leadership of this country is not the cause; they are an effect. WE THE PEOPLE are the cause, and it is time for us to assume responsibility for what we have done and do something different.
This is not about politics; it is about who we are and self-respect. This is a possible pathway to a return to respect. Let us not shy away from the inner struggle of civility. This struggle, I believe, is as important as any struggle we have ever engaged in.
Long ago Jacob struggled with his adversary at Jabbok Ford and said to him, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” May the struggle for civility continue until we return to the blessing of respect of ourselves and one another.
If you are taking A Pledge of Civility, please let me know. We struggle together, but the result will be that we are contributing to a return to respect.