It was while attending a high school football game a couple of weeks ago that I saw it: players of both teams, the coaches, and even the referees "taking a knee!" It was not while the National Anthem was being played, however, but during an injury timeout. A player was down on the field attended by trainers, and everyone else on the field knelt -- not in protest, but in respect. As he eventually stood to his feet and was assisted off the field, players and fans for both teams applauded.
It encourages me that our high school ballplayers are being taught that it is possible to play hard, to play with determination and a competitive attitude, and still maintain a measure of respect for other people. That is something not always demonstrated in college and professional sports.
My parents taught me respect. By example and by instruction, I learned to esteem authority and peers, as well as places and objects of honor. For example, in my family, wearing a baseball-type cap was inappropriate inside a building, especially the church. Respect included kind words such as "thank you," "yes ma'am," "yes sir," "I am sorry," and "please." There were occasions when even the manner of dress could show respect.
It is not the behavior itself, but the context of the action, that indicates respect or disrespect. At a Korean wedding I watched as the groom not only "took a knee," but bowed at their feet all the way to the floor in honor of his parents and grandparents. In that culture the aged are highly respected rather than pushed aside as though having nothing of value to contribute.
The rights afforded us by the Constitution are for our good and protection. However, when we exercise them at the expense of the rights of others, we have abused those rights. Mutual respect is essential if we are to experience the intended benefits; and thus, some level of humility is necessary.
Anthony Bloom wrote, "Humility comes from the Latin word 'humus', fertile ground. The fertile ground is there, unnoticed, taken for granted, always to be trodden upon. It is silent, inconspicuous, and yet is always ready to receive any seed, ready to give it substance and life."
Treating others with disrespect takes away substance and life. It is possible to disagree and still maintain mutual respect. Another word for respect is "esteem." When we esteem the other person, we give life.
Dr. James C. Dobson highlighted this principle in his book, The Strong-willed Child. The bottom line of parenting a strong-willed child is to break the will of the child without breaking the spirit of the child. To say it another way, we must learn to focus on the problem rather than the person; the behavior or action rather than the being.
It is called respect, and every human being is worthy to receive it. That does not mean to ignore or condone deplorable behavior, but we should attempt to confront those negative exploits with the purpose of resolution and not destruction. Rather than adding to the problem, may we seek to bring good to the circumstance by granting respect to others.
Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.