I struggle with the idea of respecting someone I don't hold in high esteem. The definition of "respect" is "to hold in high esteem." But, really, it is more than that. It is a way to treat someone or something. I think that is the kind of respect we are losing.
To respect another person, to treat them with respect no matter who or what they are, requires us to at the very least be polite. Name-calling is disrespectful. But to tolerate behavior that is harmful, that is hurtful, that is hateful is not part of being respectful. So how do we walk the line between enabling that kind of behavior without becoming harmful, hurtful, or hateful ourselves?
It is hard. It really is. But to be our best selves we need to practice being assertive without being aggressive. We can voice our disagreement in "I" statements. We can give feedback about how their behavior makes us feel. "I find that offensive." We can confront inappropriate behavior by being specific and forthright. "When you ________, I feel _______. Let's discuss this calmly." "I don't agree with you, and this is why _______."
Even the thoughts we have need to be reworded to be more respectful. If you hear yourself starting your statement with "You", then you are probably heading down a path that leads away from respect. "I think you are not aware of other perspectives on this issue." Rather than "You don't know what you are talking about."
So, yeah, it is hard. And it is important to stop the flood of disrespect that seems to be sweeping our culture right now.
I'm struggling with it. And I hope others are too. We can learn to live together in peace when we learn to treat others with respect.