What happened to respect? Did it cease to exist and we all missed the announcement about when it went away? Is “respect” something parents still teach their kids or is it just something from the 1990’s like neon clothes and slap bracelets? Have we lost the ability to hold people accountable for their actions, which has led to an empowered and disrespectful society? Over time, it seems as if discipline (in all forms) has become a lost art, as if kids can do whatever they want, suffering little to no consequences. When these kids grow up and become adults, they seem to have a sense of “you can’t tell ME what to do” about them. This is bad. Quite simply, it needs to stop.
I am told there was a time when respect was something that was taught to children at a young age in hopes that as they grew up, they would show respect to their peers and certainly their elders. I have heard stories of a time when people generally respected the police, first responders, nurses, and teachers. You know, the folks in this world who do the “thankless” jobs for much less pay than rightfully deserved. Allegedly, there was a time people recognized these people and professions as valued members of society and all agreed they should ultimately be respected, because if not them, then who?
Put simply, police officers should be obeyed (a form of respect), fire fighters revered for their willingness to run into burning buildings (everyone loves them, I get it), nurses loved for their compassion and willingness to deal with bodily fluids and the side of humans that should remain unseen, and teachers should be honored for their dedication to passing on knowledge to our youth, truly shaping the future of our society.
Gone are the days where these people and professions are held in high regard or given the proper respect and fairness. More often than not, it seems they’re being drug through the mud by the media. Their support today, only comes from the “silent majority”. Gone are the days where the loudest voices are the ones in support of the people that need it the most. Gone are the days, where you can openly support police, firemen, and other public servants without having to fear your property will be vandalized, or you yourself will be harassed for supporting them.
I recognize there is support out there for police officers, fire fighters, nurses, and teachers, however, you’d be hard pressed to convince me things haven’t changed over the past few years. Sadly, they haven’t changed for the better, at least in my opinion. It has become far worse over the years when it comes to respect for these professions. I am not saying the “world is against” all first responders or nobody loves teachers or nurses anymore. That simply isn’t true. What I am saying, is when you turn on the news or scroll through your favorite social media platform, the hate and negativity isn’t hard to find. What is missing? Respect.
So it bears the question, why has the narrative changed? Have these professions changed? Have these professions morphed into something that is not worthy of support or respect over the years? I certainly don’t think so. In fact, I would argue that these jobs have become far more difficult in today’s society and culture and they deserve more respect than ever before. The jobs of police officers, firefighters, nurses and teachers have all changed over time, like all things do. However, with the advent of social media and the complete degradation of the idea of RESPECT, our society has slowly gone down its current deteriorating path.
When did it become okay to shoot at fire fighters and paramedics? Aren’t they the “good guys” that everyone loves? When did it become okay to cuss out a police officer on a traffic stop just because, “you don’t like them”? If you don’t agree with a police officer’s ticket or arrest, you will have your chance to fight it through the proper channels, the time and the place isn’t in the streets using disrespect or violence. Furthermore, police officers enforce laws, they don’t make them, anger directed at them regarding laws on the books is extremely misguided. Contact your local government representatives or state legislators if you want laws changed.
Respect doesn’t have to imply agreement. You can respect someone and not agree with them, heck you can respect someone you don’t like. Try that one on for size. It is possible to respect police officers and not agree with something they did, a traffic ticket they wrote you, or their actions in a video you saw on the internet. It is also possible to take a step back and see the bigger picture of what police officers really are and what they risk on a daily basis, for the better good of everyone.
One of the biggest driving factors of the division in our current society, is the notion that tolerance must stem from agreement. This couldn’t be more wrong. It is still okay to “agree to disagree” folks. I know this has become a lost art, but it is still an option, one that should seemingly be revisited more often. In furtherance of the idea that we should be a more empathetic and loving society, why choose division in lieu of constructive debate or discussion? Why resort to false accusations and protests any time something happens you may not like or agree with? Is it really that difficult to “walk a mile” in someone’s shoes or see things from a different perspective? It just might make things better for everyone. It certainly can’t hurt.
One great thing about respect is it’s free. It’s simple to give and just as easy to get in return when shown. If this concept was applied to all interactions with police, use of force and officer involved shootings would be dramatically reduced. Lest we not forget, police are reactive. They react to the actions of the people they deal with, if you are calm and respectful, the officers will be too. It’s really a simple concept. If you run, fight, or point a weapon at an officer, odds are good the situation won’t end well. That choice is up to the person in question, not the officer.
I have yet to see a video where an officer shoots someone at random without discussion or provocation. It just doesn’t happen. However, I have seen multiple videos made by people of all shapes, sizes, and colors, regarding positive interactions with police. Videos where the message is oddly similar to the one in this article. Show respect, get respect, everyone wins. In such videos, the person usually says, “The officer was nice and professional”. Odds are good, so was the person who made the video. Funny how that works! On multiple occasions throughout my career, I was thanked by a person I was putting jail. It does happen and usually because the person was respectful and I was respectful back, the way it should be. You won’t see that on the news!
When it’s all said and done, the simple rule that you should treat people the way you want to be treated rings true as ever. Are there situations or exceptions where people are mistreated at no fault of their own? Absolutely. Clearly, no one should support that scenario, police officer involved or not. The game of respect is a two-way street. Quite simply, everyone should play it and everyone should win.
All too often, it is said that it is the police officer’s fault when someone they were dealing with chooses to run, fight, or point a weapon at them and something bad happens. This is not the fault of police. If we looked at the scenario through the lens of respect, the blame should be placed on the one who chose not to show it. Police can’t make someone run, fight, or shoot at them. Even if someone disagrees with the officer’s tactics or approach to the situation, complying and being respectful would ensure everyone involved goes home that night. I can assure you, that’s what officers want. If you don’t think that is true, you need to talk to a police officer, because you’re wrong.
Hold that door open the next time you see someone walking your way, say thank you or compliment someone today. If you deal with a police officer, be courteous and show some respect and I guarantee the outcome will be a positive for all involved, and most importantly you’ll both go home safely.
Thank an officer today.
– The Officer Next Door