Respect is Not Earned

With each breaking day, the culture of our world community is cracking into crassness and the memes of delivery for that debasing of human nature lives in the tubes of the internets.  When you see the — now infamous — image of the boy below, do you laugh or cringe?

When I see such a young boy publicly demonstrating contempt for others, I cringe. 

When I see that young boy celebrated as a mascot and honored as a harbinger of appropriate public behavior on other websites and blogs, I feel like withdrawing from the world and revoking my license to practice participation in the Human Race.  Why run a life when the slog only ends in a tar pit? Is “respect” a savior from the pit, or is it merely a shovel to implement your end?

“Respect” is now a big issue for many in the world and, it seems, the key to “respect” is “earning” it or “gaining” it — while I argue the opposite is more engaging and necessary:  “Respect is always given and must never be earned.”

If we require “respect” for each other to be a high-water mark for fulfilling our narrow wishes, or if we make “respect” a test we give to each other with the risk of a failing grade, we will never respect anyone beyond our self-interested inner circle because the risk to health and profitability is too great, and so “respect” becomes a social noose and an economic whip to be used against everyone else in a circular argument that successfully eats it own tail without ever satiating its rabid hunger:

“You don’t respect me!”

“You earn my respect, first!”

If, however, we decide to respect each other by default — then behavior and the execution of anticipation become the methods of quantifying the successful quest for respect — and that inevitably leads to quietness and getting along with each other.  Do we even want quiet and joy?  Or do we really crave noise and chaos?

Can we ever allow respect to become innate, but revocable, as a new community standard where we can, as a group, infrequently reserve the right to withdraw respect in the event of anti-social threats and non-conforming behavior?  If we don’t respect each other, then we risk a crasser culture.

We are already getting heightened crass indices as middle-finger pointing replaces calm disagreement on mainstream television shows like Big Brother 10 on CBS.  Big Brother now prefers to propagate hatred on TV and in live internet feeds instead of providing ways to heal our loss of love and lack of respect for each other. 

Here’s Keesha, a 30-year-old current houseguest at CBS, vehemently demonstrating her missing self-respect to her housemates:

Then there’s the matter of April and Ollie, also current houseguests on the Big Brother 10, as they doggedly do it doggy-style in the dark — but with night vision cameras actively broadcasting their every humping live on the internet — so the entire world can glimpse her real breasts and his arm pulling her harder into his other middle-finger.

CBS used to be known as “The Tiffany Network” where grace and quality were the leading principles of their broadcast aesthetic.  Today, the CBS “eye” logo has been replaced with an erect middle-finger and a wish for wanton disrespect.

CBS is documenting, in an unexpected and unintended way, the live decay of human culture — and all we can do is try no to watch while we wonder for the younger and calmer days when entertainment indicated a hope for humanity and not a pox upon us all.