Courteous Courtesies Are The Seeds of Respect

My first Wednesday post in a couple of weeks, and I’m really jut rambling at this point. It’s been a busy summer, and the fall/winter will be just as busy, but with putting the words down as opposed to trying to get them into people’s hands. But enough of that, let me get to the crux of this post, which is the difference between courtesy and respect, at least how I see them.

You’ve often heard the phrase, “Respect must be earned.” Okay, sure, there’s truth to that statement. And how does one earn respect? By continually displaying that they’re worthy of it, that their character is sound and solid, that they’re, in essence, a good person who treats you and others well, regardless of what’s going on around them. Of course, that takes time. That’s the key word here: time.

It takes time to build respect, for it to be properly earned, and enacted. Yet, we’re also told to “respect everyone,” which includes assholes with beliefs we don’t agree with, and well, I’m not sure respecting everyone is even possible anymore. How can you respect a person you just met? Especially when you disagree with their beliefs right down to your very core? So much so that you’d rather tear out your own entrails than be subjected to those beliefs in any way.

Here, let me put it another way… I’m a Ford guy, huge Mustang lover, and I always will be. Now, you Dodge people are out there snickering, saying my Mustang is full of shit, it’s not even a car, not really. More like a collection of junk put together with bubble gum and rubber bands. You know, I’ve heard all the jokes before… FORD = Fucked On Race Day; FORD = Found On Road Dead; FORD = Fixed Or Repaired Daily, or my fave, FORD = For Only Retarded Drivers. I’ve been constantly needled by Dodge people over the years, talking about their Chargers and their trucks, their goddamn superiority in all things mechanical. It’s ceaseless, all the time, it’s like they can’t let it go, like they feel the need to stick it to us Ford owners every chance they get.

All we want as Ford people is to be left alone, to be able to have our Fords without having to fight an overwhelming number of Dodge owners just for the right to have what we want, what should be a completely acceptable choice. Me owning a Ford doesn’t physically hurt any Dodge owners, it doesn’t go against their edict that Dodge is better (because, see, they can still buy Dodge and hang Dodge shit on their walls, put Dodge shit on their lawns), and by purchasing a Ford, I’m not forcing them to buy a Ford or take down their wall decorations or lawn ornaments. But, they see my Ford and out come the insults. Out come the japes and the keys, going after me personally and the paint job on my Ford, or, for fuck’s sake, the “Come to Hemi” speeches. I can’t tell you how many of those I’ve endured and how many others I’ve shut down in the opening lines.

And you know what, I just can’t respect that. I won’t. How in the holy hell can I respect someone when their very presence puts me on the defensive? After years of abuse, that’s what happens. We get jaded, fearful, beat down. So, yeah, when I see a Dodge owner roll up, I’m automatically trying to figure out where the next little dig is going to come from. And I can’t respect that, not right away, not just because this guy believes so much in his Dodge and its Hemi.

But, that doesn’t mean I can’t be a courteous member of society or, as I like to call it, a civil human being.

Because, really, what do I know about this Dodge owner other than he’s a Dodge owner?

Maybe this Dodge owner is different, maybe that Dodge was his dad’s and it’s just been handed down and he’s looking to trade in. Or it’s possible it’s just a rental, and his usual car, a Prius or something, is in the shop. Or maybe it’s his Dodge, right, and just maybe he doesn’t hate Ford owners like the other Dodge owners. Sure, he still believes that Ford is an inferior automobile, that his Dodge smokes my Ford, and that’s perfectly fine because I still believe my Ford puts his Dodge to shame. We’re on equal footing there, but maybe he’s more like a Ford owner in the sense that he doesn’t care. He knows, at least in a greater sense, that the type of car we own only defines us to a degree, and there are a great many other things that define us as well, such as life experiences and education.

And this is where courtesy comes into play. It costs nothing to be nice, to smile and shake hands, and have a conversation. We may find we get along quite well, and at that point, we start the long process of building mutual respect. Again, respect takes time and it’s not just given. What’s freely given is, well, like I already said, courtesy.

And if we find we can’t get along, we part and that’s it. There’s no need for hate, but at the same time, I’m probably not going to respect them anymore over time. I can always, however, be courteous.

You see, not liking someone isn’t enough of a reason to hate him or her. Sure, you can use caution when a person is apart of a group you have bad history with (like those Dodge owners), but caution shouldn’t equate to rudeness, to a complete disregard to common courtesy, and that’s something we’ve forgotten (myself included, about 75% of the time, but I’m working on it).

I think if we could get back to that courteous place, the one where we gave people a chance to be decent to each other and where we were courteous 95% of the time, we could start to heal the rifts.

Over time, I could learn to respect that.

If you have comments, feel free, just remember that I reserve the right to delete or not approve any asshole posts. I’m generally interested in building toward a better me and a more inclusive writing community, because #risingtide is a thing.


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