Respect for All Mankind

Ethan - Brooklyn, New York
Entered on March 2, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: respect

I believe in equality, responsibility and respect—for all people, no matter their role. My family has configured these principles inside my brain, and it has been harnessed in my mind through books I read and experiences I’ve grappled with.

For example, consider Peter McWilliams. Not only was McWilliams the author of Life 101 : Everything We Wish We Had Learned About Life in School- But Didn’t, but he was also a passionate individual who wrote about one’s desire for personal growth. In his “guidebook”, he embellishes upon many principles that come into play in one’s lifetime. One idea that really stuck with me was his advice to me, the reader, that “there is nothing you need to do to become worthy. You already are worthy.” He goes on to point out that “Worthiness is a given. It has nothing to do with action, thoughts, feelings, mind, body, emotions, or anything else. You are worthy of being because you are.” His ability to make these brilliant statements really demonstrates the kind of person that I try to be, and the type of individual we all should strive to become. So many times we see people not getting the respect they deserve. They walk around acting as if respect is a gift, and that is something that people can only earn. According to Peter McWilliams, if you’re a human being, you are automatically worthy of respect.

This concept reminds me of a moment at my sleepaway camp one summer. Like all camps, we have a camp-wide competition called Color War; for three days the entire camp is divided into two teams, white and blue. Different events take place between the divided age groups including swimming competitions, sporting events, bucket brigades, apache relays, and so on. In one softball game, when I was on the Blue Team, we happened to defeat the White Team. Personally, I had fared poorly in the game, but I was proud that the Blue Team was able to get the points for that event. However, my teammates seemed to forget that I was on the team, and disregarded me even worse than they did members of the White Team. They paid no attention to me whenever I discussed the events of the day and they seemed to be in collective agreement to ignore whatever I said. For myself, personally, being an 11-year-old, I felt awful, but I didn’t think much of it. I figured that their “competitive nature” had gotten the best of them. This experience made me feel unworthy for the first time in my life. Eventually, my team came around to treat me the way I desired to be treated, but that memory stuck with me. And, not surprisingly, I’ve since had comparable occurrences like the aforementioned experience. It made me realize the power of McWilliams’s words that “Worthiness is a given.”

I have come to the conclusion that everyone deserves equal respect, no matter what skill level, dress code, appearance, talents, or any other quality that one seems to rub in the face of other individuals. By the same token, I strongly advocate that those people which possess a higher level of skill or talent, or “knack” for an ability over others, do deserve more responsibility and more money as well, but the level of respect has to remain in equilibrium. Aren’t we all people? I can’t see any reason to believe otherwise.