This I Believe

William - Lake Oswego, Oregon
Entered on December 21, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: respect

The Critical Characteristic

Some people say that respect is somewhat important. I disagree with this; I think respect is absolutely vital to our peaceful existence. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times before, but I believe it is very important to respect others, regardless of how smart, or pretty, or strong, or whatever they are. It doesn’t matter! If you want to live on a peaceful Earth (or Mars, if you’re reading this much later than I anticipated) you’ve got to do your part. Every little thing counts, from just complimenting someone to not slipping that candy into your pocket before you buy it.

Take me, for example. I have never shoplifted, but I have certainly dome a few things I regret. In retrospect, most of these things could have been avoided if I had respected someone more. While I’m not an anti-war activist or anything, I definitely believe that most horrible wars could have never happened if rulers of powerful countries had respected other rulers of other powerful countries. We wouldn’t need SWAT teams if that gunman shooting up a school had respected the lives of others. Police would be out of a job if that guy robbing your house had respected you and your belongings. Or if that drunk driver had possessed enough respect to not have one too many cans of beer. It all boils down to one thing: respect.

In the fall of 2004 I did something I seriously regret. I was in the fifth grade, and doing fine. I had many friends, a great teacher, good grades, and loving parents. Then one day at recess some “friends” of mine began to tease a boy in our class. What they didn’t know at the time was that he had mental difficulties. They simply thought he was stupid. Somewhere amid the name-calling, I joined in. I’m not going to say peer pressure forced me into it, because I certainly made the choice to jump in, but I am going to state that it definitely didn’t help. Every day on the playground we would call him retarded, force him into shouting matches, and while it never actually came to physical blows, a lot of feelings were hurt. Then the teased told the teacher about the teasers. Needless to say, we got in a heck of a lot of trouble. I’m sure the boy’s emotions were hurt far more than our pride, however, as we spent our next month’s recess in the classroom. The whole episode could have been effortlessly avoided if we had carried a greater respect for him.

Whoever coined the word “respect” probably didn’t realize the total implications of the word. It can mean many things, such as caring, loving, and noticing other peoples’ problems. It could be called an umbrella word, covering the most important aspects of many other positive terms. Like a giant machine, if one cog or gear is taken out, the whole contraption fails, regardless of how carefully it is constructed. We must work to uphold the standards created by that one simple word. It may be difficult, but the rewards will be great. I cannot even begin to describe all of the benefits of respect here. Respect is what I believe in.