So let’s begin by discussing the word, respect. During our mat chats, I often ask my students what is the definition of respect. The most common answer I get is the golden rule, “Do unto others, as you would have done unto you.” That is a great answer, but then when I ask, what does that mean, far fewer hands shoot up. Most kids can memorize a quote, but to apply it is different.
Even though I look at respect in its simplest form, it truly can be that simple. But, I don’t give that as an answer. My answer is far more complex and often brings about more questions and debates. But, before I give my answer, let’s take a look at a very popular opinion. “Respect should be earned, not given.” We have all heard this statement, and I have to admit, I have heard instructors say it in our own dojang. So, why do I mention it, and why would I say it’s wrong? Let’s quickly look at my definition, and evaluate the difference in the two. “Respect has two parts, first acknowledge how you feel about someone, and then second, treat them with kindness and courtesy, anyway.”
Obviously these two are vastly different. So why do I prefer my definition? Put simply, you may not be in a position to always have someone earn respect. For example, if you start a new job, but don’t like your boss, this doesn’t give you the right to be disrespectful, if you are, you may not keep your employment for long. Or maybe a student doesn’t like their teacher. We don’t get to pick and choose our teachers and ultimately a student must buckle down and do the work. We live in the real world. We don’t get to pick who we interact with, we can’t control their attitude, and we definitely can’t control their opinions. Regardless of how we feel, EVEYONE should be treated with respect.
So what does it take to fix this issue? I wish I could give a simple answer and suddenly everyone is happy. Unfortunately, we can’t fix all the world’s problems. Instead we need to focus on ourselves and fix what is within our control. We can begin by living our lives with Black Belt Attitude, and in doing so, the two traits, at the top of that list are courtesy and respect for others. Instead of being angry and intolerant, we need to be open and friendly. We may not agree with another’s opinions, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong. Everyone has different life experiences and often those experiences lead to different opinions. “A warrior isn’t the one who runs head long into battle. They are the ones who stand between the battle and the ones they love.” Instead of creating negative feelings between yourself and another, become the light that creates a more positive day for others. “Sometimes one kind word is the only positive thing experienced all day.” Become part of the solution, not add to the problem.
If you have any questions, or would like to add to this discussion, please feel free to comment, and until next time, I’ll see you “In the Dojang”.