To My Children (and any others who will hear me out),
I know you get tired of it. I get on to you for any disrespect I observe. If I catch you treating others unkindly I call you on it. You're not allowed to say you hate someone or openly claim yourself better than someone else without a lengthy lecture on humility and love.
I know you must get extra tired of the times you have to listen to one of my speeches because I read something on the news about another kid who has decided to exercise their freedom of speech in a most ill-mannered way. I halfheartedly apologize for those lectures. I realize it sounds like I'm getting on to you.
Instead, I'm frantically making sure I've taught you, that regardless of your feelings and beliefs, there's a right way to act and a wrong way to respond to things you believe are wrong in this world.
Recently, I read about a young girl who had knowingly and intentionally disregarded the dress code at her school by wearing a spaghetti strap tank top. The school clearly prohibited thin-strapped tank tops. The dress code also banned distracting apparel for both boys and girls. The girl's response to her being asked to change clothes, for breaking dress code, was to wear another tank top the next day with Sharpie marker-decorated arms which expressed, "I am not a distraction". She became an overnight news hero.
The message I heard?
Hey kids! Don't like a rule? Disregard it. And when you're called on it? Break the rule in a more dramatic fashion. Because everybody knows respect is:
1. ALL about esteeming yourself and those who think like you
2. Earned by showing disregard for something you don't like or you think is unfair
Are tank tops of the devil? Nope. Neither are rules that cramp your fashion style. So you disagree with the dress code. Write the school board a letter. Ask to attend a meeting. There's a right way to seek change.
On a different note, but similar tune...Today I read about the walkout at the Notre Dame commencement. The university dared invite a speaker that held different beliefs than many that graduated; Vice President, Mike Pence.
Knowing that Pence would be speaking, dozens of graduates showed up and then followed through on a plan to disrupt the ceremony; a ceremony that other graduates likely would have preferred enjoy without a justice march.
Despising Pence for what he stands for is perfectly fine. Standing up for what you believe is also applaud worthy. But those who support such a walkout should ask themselves these questions.
- Aren't you for tolerance? (Or must only your own views be tolerated?)
- Haven't you said that we should love each other, Love Wins? (Or is love only something we practice on people who believe like us?)
We don't have to agree on the quality person Pence is. I believe in free speech. It's a real thing, but as believers we are to use that freedom wisely.
For the record, I don't believe that uncivil behavior accomplishes anything of value.
In 2009, President Obama was chosen as Notre Dame's commencement speaker. Like with Pence, there were students who strongly disagreed with Obama's values. Instead of making a mockery of a much looked-forward-to graduation, fifty students held a prayer vigil on campus.
I get it. It's hard to show respect to someone you don't believe deserves it. Do the hard thing. That is what's really courageous. When you show someone disrespect, you don't so much highlight that person's deficits as much as you reveal your own lack of moral compass.
There's a right way to disagree. Being disrespectful isn't it.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...
1 Peter 3:15
In a nutshell:
I think this has always been a topic where maybe I disagree with the majority. I've never been one to believe that respect must be earned. It should be earned! But even if you feel respect toward someone has not been merited, a person of character will show respect anyway because they are a respectful person. I don't think a lot of people earned respect from Jesus but he showed respect toward people.
Respect can be a Christlike gift of grace and goodness to those who aren't like us and don't behave like us.
Which brings us to the next problem. None of us have ever been awesome at being Christlike, but when we cease to attempt to love like him we cease to really love at all.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10