Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Respect (from Bubba's journal)

Respect seems to exist independent of man's will. One does not say, "I think that I'll respect this person that I am about to be introduced to simply because I want to." It doesn't happen that way. If one is not worthy of respect, we cannot clothe him with it, whether we want to or not. Respect must be earned. Furthermore, once established, respect has the power to grow, to reproduce itself, if you will, independently of our will. For example, an inmate in a penal institution very slowly and painstakingly, eventually won the respect of a certain correctional officer who happened to hold the rank of lieutenant. This officer was known as a "hard officer", by both lower ranking officers and inmates alike. Earning his respect was, to understate it, difficult at best. He was not easily impressed.

However, just as one cannot bestow respect at will, neither can he withhold it at will. The inmate who won the lieutenant's respect simply possessed the qualities that the lieutenant had to grudgingly respect. To be sure, he put those qualities to the most strenuous tests imaginable. But they proved to be genuine by passing these tests, and the lieutenant became powerless in his attempts to withhold his respect for the inmate. He began calling the inmate "Mr. Doe."

One day the lieutenant and a sergeant encountered "John" walking in a hallway and the lieutenant addressed him as "Mr. Doe" in front of the shocked sergeant. The sergeant could not believe his ears. He told other officers about it, and began pointing out "John" to them.

It was not long before nearly all of the officers holding rank below the lieutenant was calling "John" "Mr. Doe." Grudgingly, I might add. For they too put "John's" qualities to tests. But once the ball starts to roll...

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