Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Give Where It's Due

Some of you may have read my recently reposted old post, "The One About Respect..." Well, recently, I've come across a Bible passage that reminded me of this post and the reason for which I posted it.

Here in America, there is not really a culture of respect. There's very little sense of one's place or position in comparison to the others and it shows itself in diverse ways. One of the most obvious examples is the blatant disrespect of the current POTUS and his cabinet. In fact, much of this disrespect you can find on billboards or shop ads. I see them and I wonder that no-one even considers it abuse of free speech. To show you what I mean, here are a few images that can be seen in various places (some of them are mildly offensive, just warning you)*:

These are in no way the extent of the images, nor are they my personal opinion and perspective (as I shall shortly explain). What type of government allows such messages to be displayed? The same on that still allows rebel flags to be flown and talk of a second Southern rebellion to exist (more on the absurdity of allowing quashed rebellions to linger as "history" and "Southern Pride")

Now, I'm not saying that the government needs to clamp down on freedom of speech, I think free speech is a wonderful thing. What I'm saying is that Americans need to show some discretion and moderation in their use and abuse of free speech. This all boils down to that respect problem I mentioned a few paragraphs ago.

In South Africa, where I grew up, there's a much larger sense of respect present. You see it all through school, in work, and even in the general public atmosphere. People respect each other and are, to a greater or lesser degree, polite to others. Students learn to respect their upperclassmen, prefects, and teachers. Employees carry that same respect and apply it to their bosses. Even in politics, there will be talks of dissent or disapproval with the current party/president, but very few would attack the government or president in the same manner or to the same degree., see*:
That's pretty much the extent of anti-Zuma or -ANC media present on the interwebs (excepting political cartoons, they're a different matter) again, they do not reflect my personal opinion.

Looking at the respect issue, I think it boils down to what you deem important. In America, there's a strong sense of self-centredness, which boils down to "I am the most important.", "I need x.", or "You need to pay attention to me."". In South Africa, however, there is a concept called "Ubuntu" (no, not the Linux OS), which can be defined as "I am human because you are human." This other-centred social awareness is much more beneficial to a respect-filled society.

Lastly, for those still not swayed, I have Biblical reasoning, too. In Romans 13:1-7 we are told to:

  • submit to the government over us as it was instituted by God.
  • obey the law over us as it is for our protection.
  • pay to the government what it is due whether that be money, respect, or honor.
Before you say "The Government does not deserve respect," were we not just told to submit to our authorities? Why would we be told to do that if they were not of a higher station than us? So, then, since the government is a higher station, automatically some respect is deserved from the general populace to the government for no other reason than the inherent nature of the position. (also, some responsibility is deserved from the government to the populace, but that's also another issue for another time)

So please, America, is it so hard to respect your president/government?

*I declined to use political cartoons as they use irreverence to make a sharp point at a prevailing issue and are forms of satire, not anti-x media.