This I Believe

Shawn - Rockford, Illinois
Entered on December 28, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: respect

Growing up, my parents didn’t require respect from anyone. They didn’t tell me to use “Yes, sir” or “Yes ma’am” to them nor did they request my friends call them “Mr.” or “Mrs.” It would seem my parents gave the world an option whether or not to respect or love them. For many years, I misinterpreted their teaching, shaping my world philosophy around miscommunication. I thought that the lesson I was taught was that people need to earn your respect and love, that it is something that is optional; that people, even myself, need to work for these two things. How wrong was I? For my teenage years, I went around respecting everyone, but leaving myself the right to refuse it to anyone who would fail me in one way or another. My parents were the two people on the top of this list, the first to suffer from my blunders. It makes sense, as many parents seem to take on the responsibility to carry their children’s mistakes. My parents seperated when I was 15, and in the eyes of a teen, that can seem like quite a letdown in the heroic image of the two people who stood up on that pedastal for your elementary years. Talking with my mother always turned into a war of yelling and fighting, and my father and I began to not talk at all. I was punishing them, withholding respect and love to the people who gave me the most of both, all because of a choice they made. And though it started with my parents, it wasn’t limited to them. Even my closest friends and girlfriend were at risk of losing my respect and love; even I wasn’t able to work hard enough to earn it. Me, unable to earn my own love. My foolish youthful, green behavior began to lead me far astray, and I began to find myself more alone than ever. One day I began to finally realize the teaching I had been given all along. This I believe, that all people deserve the utmost respect, whether or not they have been respectable; that the most unlovable people are usually the ones who need it the most. I believe that there should be no requirment for love; that you cannot ask people to work for something that is a basic need. You wouldn’t withhold water from a thirsty man, nor would you make him work for it, and I believe that love and respect is of the same group of elements. My parents taught me that it is impossible and pointless to demand the care and respect of others, that you need to have faith in people that they will give them willingly and that leading by example is enough to keep that faith alive. So I was taught, 19 years in the making, and this I believe.