Friday, July 12, 2013

Respect everyone

Steve Brust retweeted this:
16hTNH: “No. Ad hominem is attacking the argument by attacking the person. I said your argument was evidence that you're an idiot.”
It reminded me of a joke I loved when I was six: A boy told his sister, "You're stupid." His mom said, "Tell your sister you're sorry." The boy said, "I'm sorry you're stupid."

Little did I know I'd been given the template for political and religious discourse on the internet.

Both St. Peter and Malcolm X said, "Respect everyone." It's excellent advice.

The full King James Version of 1 Peter 2:17 is "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king." The italicized men means the word was added by the translators. A modern version could be, "Respect everyone. Love your community. Worship God. Honor your leader."

The full Malcolm X quote is "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery." The strength of the second part makes some readers miss the stress on the first: Until people put a hand on you, treat them with respect. If they put a hand on you, defend yourself—but even when it's over, be respectful. (As Malcolm undoubtedly knew, "Do not speak ill of the dead," is a saying attributed to Muhammad.)

Peter's "honor the king" and Malcolm's "obey the law" do not mean you should not work to change governments or laws. It means we make a better world by remembering to treat everyone with respect, no matter who they are or what they've done.

Some people say respect is a two-way street, but conditional respect is not respect—every mother knows "they did it first" is no excuse for bad behavior. Respect is a one-way street. Respect yourself, and you can treat anyone with respect, no matter how badly they treat you.

I am not fond of organized religion, which means even Unitarian-Universalists can be too restrictive for me, but I love their seventh principle: "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."

Who is excluded from that?

A few favorite quotes:

"If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die." - Maya Angelou

"Civility costs nothing, and buys everything." – Mary Wortley Montagu

“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” ― Albert Einstein

“Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized.” — Albert Einstein

“You should respect each other and refrain from disputes; you should not, like water and oil, repel each other, but should, like milk and water, mingle together.” — Buddha

"Men are respectable only as they respect." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.” — Voltaire

"For me, politeness is a sine qua non of civilization." -Robert A. Heinlein

“I fear no one, but I respect everyone.” — Roger Federer

Recommended:

An Essay by Einstein -- The World As I See It

Golden Rule - Wikipedia

Name calling - Wikipedia: "Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement lists name calling as the worst type of argument in a disagreement."


Related: On name-calling and ad hominem, the bottom-feeders of Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement