I am stunned by the death of Aretha Franklin. Reading all the accolades and tributes reminds me of the power of language, and that one word can become powerful in a culture, embodying our values and beliefs. One such word for me is RESPECT. I am sure that the concept existed long before Aretha made it a househoold word, but probably not as spelled out one letter at a time.
In my classroom, when students insisted on using their phones while I lectured, I would not call them out or embarrass the miscreant. I would simply turn around and write on the board, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and the behavior would stop. I had already lectured about how disrespectful it was to talk to each other, talk or text on their phones, read newspapers, or shop while someone is trying to teach you something.
If there is one aspect missing today in our dialogue, especially across political ideology, is respect for differences of opinion. We seem to stop listening and evaluating what is said if it disagrees with our views.
But, that is no way to act in a democracy, where the free exchange of ideas must be respected. When I see someone’s eyes glaze over and their mouths start to form words of disagreement, as someone is speaking, I want to write on their napkin or across their newspaper, R-E-S-P-E-C-T!