Take Care Tuesday – Showing Respect For Others


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There is an old saying that you can’t change anyone but yourself … so why is it instead of allowing others to simply live their lives we wnd up with such broad efforts to change other people? To convince them that THEIR way is wrong, and they need to see ‘the light’ and get on course? That governments need to step in and regulate those who live their lives in a way unlike our own?

Why can’t we step back from this and accept that others are different and simply respect and celebrate those differences?

Here is my bottom line: I consider women’s rights to be human rights; race rights to be human rights; cultural rights to be human rights; gay rights to be human rights. And I see not clearer way to show disrespect for someone than to interfere with or take away their human rights.

Since we are in the midst of the Olympics the anti-LGBT overtones still echo fresh in our minds, but sadly that isn’t the only thing. Here are a few:

– In Uganda the President said he will sign anti-gay legislation, which could lead to a 14 year jail sentence for “the promotion or recognition of homosexual relations”.

– In India, the Supreme Court decided to reinstate a colonial-era rule that outlawed “sex against the order of nature,” including same-sex intercourse. Buzzfeed looks at the impact of what is essentially the reinstatement of a law already found unconstitutional. Scott Adams took on the issue in a rare political cartoon above … but many papers wouldn’t run it.</a<

– And in Afghanistan, after 13 years of American war and occupation, Women have gained significant new rights – if now actual equality. Unfortunately, recently they have seen law after law go against women’s rights – most recently passing a law that allows girls as young as 12 to be married against their will.

Not In MY Backyard

It is very easy to look at all of these things and have a distant sense of righteous indignation. But as many of us know, there are plenty of problems right here in America. And as much as some would like to think that we live in a ‘post racial’ society, or that it is time to put ‘race issues’ in the past … there is still an all-too wide swath of America that is deeply racist …

… and they’re going after Cheerios.

Cheerio Commercial ‘Controversy’? – Do you remember the commercial from last year where the little girl asks her mother about whether Cheerios were good for her heart … and the father wakes up with Cheerios on his chest? Here it is to refresh your memory:

So what did you think? My first thought from last year was that in my house our Norfolk Terriers would have long sincejumped all over me and eaten all the Cheerios! But as I learned from Tonya at Healthy Fit & Frugal, there was quite a racist stir – because what many racists noticed was that one parent was white and the other was black.

Yes, and this was in 2013.

And they carried it to the extent that Cheerios had to shut down all comments on the video because of the hate-spewing – what Cheerios (General Mills) said was that they promote family friendly values, and would accept discourse that adhered to certain guidelines, but what was happening was NOT family friendly.

For the Super Bowl 2014 Cheerios bought their first-ever spot, and it brought back the same family, this time dealing with a NEW issue – an expanding family. Here is the ad:

When I first saw the ad (pattern of race cluelessness here) my thoughts were that the parents should have been together talking to the daughter, that the father lacked a spine by bargaining with a dog to pacify the demanding child, and that the parents are doomed if they don’t quickly learn to present a united and strong front as a team. Again, I still had no clue about the racial issues.

I grew up in a ‘Kennedy household’ – my parents were a newly married couple in the early 60s, the dawn of a new era and saw all possibilities. Without it meaning anything special to me at the time, I grew up with a very diverse group around me – it wasn’t until later that I saw how much hate their was around the world. It wasn’t until later that I heard someone in authority say that “all those mixed-race couples should be taken out and shot” … without a smile or even any particular malice; just matter-of-fact.

The reality is that very often respect is the more difficult path – it is easier to quickly pass judgment, to insult and hate those different than us rather than getting to know them, and to selfishly covet the abilities and accomplishments of others.

Here are a few thoughts for trying to bring respect into all aspects of our lives:

Respecting Efforts
1 Show gratitude. Thank people for their assistance and their support on a regular basis.
2 Compliment the achievements of others.
3 Be sincere.
4 Do what you say you’ll do.
5 Offer your assistance.

Respecting Opinions
1 Be a good listener.
2 Ask lots of questions.
3 Learn about the perspectives of others.
4 Pick your battles.
5 Respectfully disagree.

Respecting “Enemies”
1 Don’t judge people before you get to know them.
2 Decide to like people.
3 If you can’t say anything nice…well, you know.
4 Don’t get mixed up in other peoples’ business and create unnecessary enemies.
5 Reach out to others, showing respect for other people by including them.

Respecting Yourself
1 Take care of yourself.
2 Avoid self-destructive behaviors.
3 Stay healthy.
4 Stand up for yourself.
5 Be ambitious.

Where have you seen appalling disrespect, and what steps have you seen people make to show respect that you find inspiring?

11 thoughts on “Take Care Tuesday – Showing Respect For Others

  1. I love this post – and you know how I feel about issues if equity in our society! I think we start to combat this by being vocal and creating activism in blog posts, parenting, and what we say to our children!

    • We make sure our kids feel empowered to call us on things when they feel we are being judgmental or insensitive. And particularly regarding gender issues, our younger son is great about widening our awareness of terminology and sensitivity.

      I honestly think (hope) what we are seeing is the desparate throes of a dying minority viewpoint clawing for relevance.

  2. Such an awesome post, Michael! I had been reading about the controversy when the commercial initially aired, so this year when I saw the ad during the Super Bowl, I said to Kevin “you’ve heard about the controversy from that commercial, right?” He looked stumped and said “because they’re bribing the girl with a dog?” It made me so proud – that even presented with the opportunity to point out that the couple was multiracial, he truly just didn’t “see it.” I know and appreciate that we’re changing as a world, but your examples and this silly Cheerios controversy point out that we’re just not changing fast enough. Thanks for the reminders!

    • Exact same thing in our house – when Tonya mentioned it in passing and I looked it up, I brought it to my family … and NONE of them had a clue or even ‘saw it’.

      I love all of the support that everyone gives me for these topics – sure it isn’t related to running or healthy eating/living … but I really believe that a holistic approach to things is the best way for our world to be a happier and healthier place.

  3. I did not grow up in a diversified area (suburban Detroit in the 70’s and 80’s). In face, jokes against gays, black people, and other races were VERY common. I learned those same jokes myself and said then NOT because I hated anyone, but because that’s what I learned. As I got older of course I realized just how awful that was, and made it a point to learn and be open to new people and experiences. As my horizons broadened, so much of my family was still stuck in that old mentality, and it took a lot of years and me discussing it with them to see that slowly their thinking has changed too. For instance I remember my dad not too long ago excitedly telling me that he and my step mom were having dinner with the first gay couple they knew. That’s almost funny to me but I also could have cried because at one time he never would have done that. I think sometimes it’s not a hate thing, but a lack of understanding and exposure. I think now as our younger generation is exposed to so much more tolerance (I hope), that the old ways of thinking will slowly be phased out. I know we have a long way to go, but there’s hope!

    • Exactly … growing up in the Boston area so many things were called ‘wicked quee-ah’. But at the time in that area queer didn’t mean homosexual but weird (or wee-ahd). But those sayings taken to a different place become hurtful – and rather than just saying ‘it is the way it has always been done’, we need to adjust our thinking. Like the ‘redskins’ thing … which is appaling as it actually has to do with scalping dead native americans to prove they had been killed … ugh.

  4. Well said – narrow and closed minds are just that – closed and closed minds can come from any end of the spectrum.

    Life is all about how we treat one another and accept the differences that we all bring to the table. Everyone has their own biases and prejudice that raise their ugly heads at the most inopportune times, how we control and change those negative areas of our lives as we grow is a sign of becoming more aware and mature over the course of our lives.

    The only thing that I do not like is when another’s life style, race, gender or whatever is aggressively thrown in my face or I am told that I have to go beyond my comfort level in how I choose to publicly support others. When I am called a bigot or worse, because I do not openly agree or publicly support their position, it raises my hackles and I usually ignore the person make the point and it lowers my esteem for that person.

    Personally, I take each individual as just that an individual and how they treat me is how I judge and yes I do judge that person at that point, which may not be politically correct to say, but it is being honest.

    I have become a big believer in letting others live their lives the way that they choose (live and let live) and I do not condone bigotry or other forms of discrimination.

  5. Good post.

    I’m not sure that we are to the point of being a post-racial society yet. At least where I live, a lot of the issues with racism are also tied up with issues about class.

    I live in a liberalish college town that prides itself on being tolerant. It is more white than the area I grew up in.

    Once my oldest started school, I started noticing that our town wasn’t quite so tolerant after all. Just by chance, the house we bought feeds into one of the more diverse elementary schools in the district. In conversation I’d tell people where my kids went to school and they would make openly racist remarks . Or if the remarks weren’t openly racist, they’d say things like, “Oh we thought about buying a house there, but I heard none of the kids that attend that school have parents that buy them books”…statements not based in reality at all…but still statements that gain some traction once they are said.

    Many of the conversations in our school district have been about thinly veiled attempts to keep the whitest schools white. People don’t want the boundary lines changed for schools if it means changing up the demographics a little. If we are talking about building a new high school or junior high people are very passionate about what schools can or cannot feed in to it, based on demographics. This stuff has been going on for years.

    • Isn’t that how it works, though? I am sure some of it is fear of change and fear of the unknown – and a distrust of what officials say we shouldn’t worry about.

  6. I remember seeing that first commercial last year and thinking it was the cutest thing ever! The second one not so much because WTF I’d be so mad if my husband told Betty we could get a dog without asking me first!

    I agree to a point with Tonya about the younger generation having more exposure which will hopefully lead to more open mindedness. I know in some cases, narrow minded people are going to raise narrow minded children, but hopefully that won’t be in all cases. There has been a definite shift in my own family. My grandmother who passed away in 2005 was a sweet woman, but VERY narrow minded. My mom is less so. I am extremely open minded and hope to raise my daughter to be open minded too.

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