Friday, January 11, 2013

Time For A Climate Change: Civility and Respect; A Remedy to Bullying and Hate


While bullying and hate crimes fill the news and desrupt the peaceful environment we long for; we may wonder what are the remedies? Some people strive to do the right thing; to please God, be an ethical person, to help others... there are myriads of reasons; social, emotional, physical. We may wish to help, but not know how to teach and encourage respect through our actions. For answers we turn to the scriptures, look to the examples of Jesus Christ. We may read Plato or Buddha, C.S. Lewis or other philosophers.

Last night as the storms raged, I sat in a Diversity and Health class at the University of Utah listening to a wise teacher construct a framework of respect that will be adhered to in her classroom. Her ideas were simple and powerful and with regards to Ms. Farnsworth, I will share her instructions on creating a respectful environment, with my additional comments.

RESPECT is treating people as equals. RESPECT is not the same as being nice in a passive-aggressive way, especially to avoid conflict. God says He loves all His children equally, who are we to judge, disdain or dismiss? (He does say He favors the righteous.) Wasn't our country founded on the idea of universal equality? Isn't this the foundation of the greatest country ever?

We must take OWNERSHIP for our opinions. Our experiences, beliefs and thoughts are our own and are unique; everyone comes from a different place, with different experiences and outlooks. Qualify a statement with "I believe..." or "I think...", my favorite - "I could be wrong, but..."

SUPPORT statements with facts and information, cite outside sources and studies that back up assertions.

LISTEN RESPECTFULLY. No side conversations, rolling eyes or sighing. No rude comments, and especially no loaded passive-aggressive or dishonest questions that are in reality, trying to hurt others, "But don't you think..."

Maintain CONFIDENTIALITY and be RESPONSIBLE for the information you know (or think you know). Too many lives and reputations are disrupted by lies, half-truths and innuendo.

If you feel OFFENDED or DISRESPECTED contact the person immediately (privately.) I need to do this better, it's much more effective than a grudge.

REMEMBER the Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated. And the Platinum Rule: Treat others as they wish to be treated.

As I walked through the driving snow after class, I thought of Christ's response to the woman who was taken in adultery (where was her partner?) He, who would ultimately pay the penalty for her act if she repented,  simply said "Go and sin no more." No abuse, dismissive behavior, gossip or punishment. We have much less at stake, but our behavior does affect the emotional climate of our culture and the world.

It's time for a climate change! Let's do our best to bring warmth and kindness to a cold and weary world.