“This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
President Eisenhower uttered these words long ago during a time when democracy was challenged by Nazi fascism and, later, the Soviet Union’s brand of Communism. Eisenhower, who was given supreme leadership of all allied forces in Europe during World War II and was the last American general to hold five-stars, knew that mutual respect was a critical element of creating and maintaining global peace. However, when we take a historical and present-day look at the foreign relations of the United States, one cannot honestly say that we have followed Eisenhower’s advice. For example, Sussman (New York Times) explains that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), whose official mission is to promote economic development and provide humanitarian relief to less fortunate countries, has a long history of involvement in covert operations meant to destabilize (e.g. through the use of propaganda or the funding of counter-regimes) the governments of smaller host nations in what USAID calls “democracy promotion.” Yet, as Sussman alludes to, our government’s claim to promote and protect democracy is seen by many of our global neighbors as a scheme that allows corporations to exploit the host nation’s resources and labor while increasing the corporation’s profit. Seemingly, people around the world believe that America is more concerned with creating capitalist markets and accumulating wealth than with promoting democratic governments or respecting a nation’s sovereignty. Yet, government, government agencies and global corporations are not alone in ensuring that our communities never resemble Eisenhower’s “proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” As reported by CNN, authorities in Portland, Oregon have been forced to flush 38 million gallons of unusable drinking water because a teenager decided to urinate in the fresh water reservoir. Commenting on the teens actions, David Shaff, a Portland Water Bureau administrator, said “It’s stupid . . . you can see the sign that says: ‘This is your drinking water. Don’t spit, throw, toss anything in it.’ He’s four feet away from that sign.” The three teenagers were arrested and cited for trespassing, with one of the teens receiving the additional charge for his public urination. One wonders if this citation will assist the teenager in learning to respect others, and, more significantly, to respect oneself.
RESPECT: Show consideration for; hold in honor and high regard. Respect is a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation, religion or spirituality), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Can there also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect? Is rude conduct usually considered to indicate a lack of respect? Respect is earned, not bought. Is it a reflection of one’s reputation and the actions that one performs every day? Respect will carry you as far in life as you let it. Are people more willing to help you and work for you if they know your word is honorable? Do you seek respect from others? Do you seek respect in yourself? Can you find respect for failure, disability, or handicap? How do you show it? What emotions, thoughts or reasoning trigger an act of disrespect or dishonor in you? Do you respect tolerance and know the difference between the two?