Respecting the opposition

July 22, 2016 by  

A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

No matter what side of the political or social spectrum you may stand on we could all benefit from respect. Our rhetoric has become bitter and intolerant which widens the gulf between us. We are now more likely to express more anger over how things are said than about the issues themselves. Our words have become weapons of war and the adversaries are our own countrymen. Prior to the election, the hottest topic in America was "Black Lives Matter." The group rose to prominence protesting the police killing of unarmed black men. It was a cry for accountability. As some of the protests turned rowdy or even violent, the question arose, were they anti-police? Were they promoting violence against officers in retaliation? That view could be the fault of language, "No Justice-No Peace." It could be seen as a threat. Likewise, the police showing up at scheduled peaceful protests in full riot gear could also be viewed as a threat. Respectful people keep their high focus and don't throw bottles provoking the police to use tear gas. On the other hand, peaceful protest was within their constitutional rights.

The election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States by an Electoral College majority split the country by those who propelled Hillary Rodham Clinton to the popular victory by nearly three million votes. Trump's victory prompted massive protests nationally and negative backlash at every turn. For his part, Trump had run a most negative campaign. To Trump supporters, he could do nothing wrong. The opposition believed he could do nothing right and ridiculed his actions. There is a similar lack of respect on both sides, however. President Trump quickly forgets his high office and insults who he wills, even judges, and the opposition disrespects the office of the president as they seek ways to tear him down. This is not good. Even while disagreeing we need to maintain respect for the presidency. The president should also learn to respect the offices of those he disagrees with.

We need to pray for a respectful spirit. There is much power derived from the very act of giving respect to others. It engenders humility, and humility is a virtue. In the East, a bow is a sign of respect. If your bow is heartfelt you will feel it in your spirit. It is easy to show respect for those you already admire but the real practice is to show it for those who present a challenge to you. Two warriors bow to each other before entering combat. In the highest sense, we should bow to God. He is most worthy of respect.


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