Many sad stories fill the news these days about how there is no respect for law enforcement officers. Police are targeted and gunned down while simply doing their jobs. While citizens may feel that the bottom line is that respect for the police is lacking, such a conclusion falls far short of the real societal issue. What issue is that? Well, there’s simply a lack of respect in general, not just for law enforcement officers.
What exactly is it that we don’t have? The dictionary tells us that to respect is to show deferential regard for someone. Just like Aretha Franklin, we all want to have people show us “just a little bit” of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” Showing deferential regard for another person is a great first step to achieving a positive outcome in your interactions with them.
The fact that law enforcement officers are not respected is just a symptom of an overall lack of respect in today’s world. This lack of respect starts with a disregard for the sanctity of life. Don’t want an unplanned pregnancy? Have an abortion. Don’t agree with someone’s religious views or sexual orientation? Just take them out. Does a person’s uniform associate him with mistreatment undertaken by someone else similarly dressed? Gun him down.
It is not just blue lives that matter. ALL lives matter–regardless of gender, race, religion, age, economic status, educational background, political affiliation, prior criminal history or length of time since conception. It’s a slippery slope when the sanctity of life is not respected; the disrespect gains momentum and the downhill slide begins.
No one should be surprised that the police are prime targets of disrespect. They are figures of authority, and respect for ANY type of authority is clearly lacking in our country. If you doubt this statement, just spend some time at your local public school. You will be appalled at the great disrespect displayed by the students to their teachers and to the administration.
My husband has been employed by a school district for a number of years. He has witnessed firsthand the rampant disrespect for authority figures. What’s a teacher to do? Well, apparently, you become numb to it and ignore it. The days of yore when a student could be sent to the principal’s office to be paddled are long past, and any type of sanction (verbal or otherwise) imposed on a student could be fodder for a lawsuit. One of my children’s public school teacher’s got so fed up with the threat of legal retailiation that he stated in class one day that he didn’t want to hear from anyone about having an attorney on speed dial. Parents don’t back up the authority figures in the schools; they are the ones rushing to call legal counsel. In the good old days, the threat of a teacher calling your parent was enough to strike fear into any student; that meant that there would be negative consequences at school AND at home.
Adults in the real world are not respectful to one another either. For proof of that statement, just hit the road. Sooner or later you’ll encounter some road rage. If you have never been rudely honked at, given the finger, cut off, or cussed out by another driver, then you must be a little old lady who only drives her car to church on Sunday morning..
And disrespect is not limited to the routes of transportation. A trip to the doctor’s office can lead to both a shot in the arm and a shot to your self-esteem. Nothing like the nurse younger than you are calling you “sweetie” or “dear” to make you feel respected. NOT. If people politely address you by some semblance of formality, at least the notion is conveyed that you are recognized as a fellow human being worthy of some respect.
If we can’t be courteous or respectful in common situations such as in the classroom, on the road or at the doctor’s office, how in the world could anyone think that we are up to showing respect in more stressful situations, i.e., when encountering someone in uniform with a gun who can tote you off to the pokey for breaking the law.
The solution to the lack of respect for law enforcement is simple in concept but difficult to actually effect. We don’t need to arm police with military style weaponry, provide citizens with sensitivity training towards police, etc. What we need to do is start at the beginning. We need to teach our children to have respect for everyone in all situations–parents, teachers, fellow drivers, police, etc. This solution will require effort on the part of parents and their offspring alike.
For those who are already adults, they are responsible for their own actions at this point. A good rule of thumb for them is the Golden Rule. They need to ask themselves, “If I were a police officer/teacher/patient, etc., how would I want someone to interact with me?” Think about it and then act like you would want to be treated, i.e., show them some respect.
Sure, what the world needs now is love, sweet love. But it also needs just a little bit of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”