The baseline is respect

Every time I run across this little quote, I love it:

Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority”

and sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say “if you won’t respect me I won’t respect you” and they mean “if you won’t treat me like an authority I won’t treat you like a person”

and they think they’re being fair but they aren’t, and it’s not okay.

(I have no idea of the original source, by the way. I’ve found it in various forms on Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc., with no attribution. If you know the original source, please let me know.)

There’s a lot of mess in our human, social communities. I don’t know how to solve it all. I don’t really know how to solve any of it. But I know that for me it starts with respect.

Kindness is nice. I like kindness, and I try to be kind. But respect has to come first, because respect without kindness is still respect, but kindness without respect is just someone being patronizing.

Respect needs to come first. And respect is always possible.

I can always acknowledge the existence and presence of another human.

I can always acknowledge their inherent value as a human.

I can always acknowledge their autonomy and right to their own opinions, expressions, and choices.

I think we have to start there. Kindness is good. It’s needed. It’s important. But for kindness to mean anything, respect has to come first.