“Unity” is a word I’ve been hearing on the news a lot lately, ever since President Biden, in his inaugural address, called for unity between political parties. So far, however, it hasn’t been working out too well.

Before we can achieve unity, or agreements of any kind, I think there are a few other words we need to put into practice – as individuals and groups, as well as communities and governments. I also think we need – if I may paraphrase a line from The Lord of the Rings – one word to rule them all.

If you had to come up with one word that was to become the law of the land, one word that everyone was required to implement into their daily lives, one word whose behavior was taught to children from a young age, and reinforced in school and throughout life, what would it be?

In my opinion, that word would be “Respect.”

With all due respect – no pun intended – to all the poems, inspirational quotes, and songs that tell us “All you need is love,” “Love makes the world go ‘round,” and even “And the greatest of these is love,” I think respect needs to come first.

Respect is simply a matter of treating people kindly. Showing regard for the feelings, wishes, and rights of others.

It could be argued that respect is not something that is given automatically – that it must be earned. And that’s true for one definition of the word, which is admiration of someone based on their abilities, achievements, traits, or character.

But it can also be argued that treating someone with respect – whether or not you think they deserve it – is always the right thing to do. Besides, how you treat others says more about you than it does about them. And there’s always the possibility that treating someone with courtesy and respect, instead of insults and impatience, could influence them to start acting in a more civil and respectful way in return.

So what are some of the words you suggest putting into practice in order to achieve things like unity, cooperation, peace, or healing? And what word do you think is the most important one of all?

I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this. I may not agree with your choices, but I’ll certainly respect your opinion.

February 5, 2021
©Betty Liedtke, 2021

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