Did you ever walk through a city and see cigarette butts glowing on the pavement, half-empty soda bottles littering the sidewalk, and garbage blowing in the air? The sight is hideous, and the stench is nauseating. It’s an invitation for rodents and disease.
The crazy thing is, there’s a garbage can on almost every street corner eager to accept “donations.” But, for whatever reason, some people throw their trash on the ground rather than walk a few feet to dispose of it.
For those of you thinking, “You’re really blowing this out of proportion,” consider this recent headline: According to the Wall Street Journal, “NYC Rats Are Boldly Jumping in Strollers.” As a result, New York City is investing over 32 million dollars to battle their rat infestation problem.
BUT, this piece isn’t about garbage or littering.
Everyone knows it’s wrong to litter. It doesn’t take much effort to throw out your garbage. The real reason people litter can be summed up in one word…disrespect.
Disrespect Is Becoming an Epidemic
Some people disrespect authority and their elders, as well as other people’s opinions and beliefs. Other folks disrespect a lifestyle, personal property, our nation’s laws, and even our country itself. And all the while, we’re complicit in their dreadful behavior because we watch idly as they commit these appalling offenses.
Why is this taking place? you ask. Some folks are disrespectful because they simply don’t know better — they never learned the difference between right and wrong. Others are disrespectful to attract attention, make a statement, or just to look cool.
There are some who believe that if their cause is just, the end always justifies the means. That’s garbage! The truth is, we are becoming a rude and uncivil society because we are condoning this kind of behavior. And, when it becomes the norm, don’t be surprised that you have garbage-laden cities, uncivil discourse, and widespread intolerance — also known as a crisis of moral character.
Show Some Respect
When you show respect, you’re implying that you value someone for their ideas, values, views, and feelings. On the other hand, when you disrespect someone, you’re attempting to diminish their worth as a person. Some people disrespect others because they view themselves as more intelligent, noble, or morally superior. The truth is, it doesn’t matter why you’re disrespectful — disrespecting someone says less about them and more about you — and your moral character.
It’s time to raise the bar. If we want to live in a caring, understanding, and tolerant society, it’s time to lead by example. People who show respect for others often gain respect in return. The converse is also true. Furthermore, one of the best ways to build self-respect is by treating others with respect. What do your words and actions say about you? And what message are you sending to others?
Follow your conscience. Sleep well.
Why Do You Think People Are Disrespcetful?
Please leave a comment and tell us what you think or share it with someone who can benefit from the information.
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Reputation: You Can’t Run from Your Shadow
Moral Character Matters
Are Role Models Becoming Extinct?
Mind Your Manners
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Keven Klopp says
Thank you. I might just frame this one. I walk a mile each morning in my neighborhood, plastic bag in hand, and pick up litter. I want to live in a caring, understanding, and tolerant society; so this is one way I try to lead by example. I think when people are disrespectful it’s because they don’t believe society is capable of being caring, understanding, and tolerant and they conduct themselves accordingly. Misery loves company. On my daily walks I’ve been thanked a handful of times, but I was also once told “You’re not going to save the world, why spend so much energy trying?” If nothing else, I enjoy that my neighborhood looks clean as I drove off to work for the day. And I sleep well each night, fully aware there will be new litter for me to pick up the next day.
Frank Sonnenberg says
I totally get it, Keven. Good for you! The next time someone says, “You’re not going to save the world, why spend so much energy trying?” tell them, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” — Steve Jobs.
Thanks for taking the time to write.
Gregory Johnson says
Frank, your observation is one of the most pervasive qualities of deterioration in our society on nearly every level or in every way. I too see it in every venue including the field of religion and certainly in the corporate setting. These two settings are infected with a virus we should aptly recognize as narcissism in patriarchial hierarchies.
There is a tendency to look down others as “less than” in far too many situations in our increasingly divisive world and specifically the United States. With divisiveness, there is the behavior to project one’s self as better than and often use phrases like, “It’s not my job or responsibility.” If it is not your responsibility to respect other members of the human race or the earth upon which we live, please find a bastion of solitary confinement and spare the rest of us that are looking for a better life for all.
We were all born to a life of human-beings living on an earth with resources and riches sufficient for each person. Let’s respect the earth and all inhabitants for the good of all.
Frank Sonnenberg says
The way I see it, if someone chooses to live a certain way, and it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s freedom, it’s their choice to make. With that in mind, a true friend is one who respects a friend for who he is, rather than who he wants him to be. It’s important to be respectful of other people’s ways of life and traditions –– even if you’re not in complete agreement.
Sometimes, however, it’s not that simple –– especially when one’s beliefs and values encroach on another’s freedom. Rather than striving to seek compromise, it seems that the new standard of discourse is “My Way Or the Highway.” This is a shortsighted and ultimately destructive attitude that is a “lose-lose” for everyone. We can’t expect others to abandon their values any more than we would forsake our own.
The fact is, we live in a world that’s getting smaller every day. It’s important to be tolerant of other people’s cultures and values, recognizing that no one has the right to force his way of life on anyone else.
Thanks for taking the time to write.