Respect begins with awareness that we share this life with everything and everyone around us. We celebrate the word respect by our interactions one on one. The Latin Respectus meaning refers to seeing the esteem or excellence of a person. Everything we do has an impact on our personal lives. We do not live in isolation. We cannot separate ourselves from the community, the people, or the environment where we function. However, careful consideration of each of these encounters demands that we remain somewhat removed. That is, we cannot take on these events or situations as personal problems. Internalization brought into focus within our own lives is essential but not to a level where we become dysfunctional. You achieve growth when you absorb the fullness of life, with all of its complications and all of its joys.

All of life’s drama, from the most joyful to the most sorrowful, happens within the arena of relationships. Being social is in our basic nature. We interact in work and in play. As the strongest essence of our life experiences, human interaction needs understanding. People “fall” in love, but people “drift” apart. Healthy and effective relationships depend on respect that emanates from our sensitivity towards the people in your relationships.

In any relationship, the growth or decline of that relationship does not happen by any single incident. The culmination of many small actions eventually defines the big bang event that finishes or sparks a relationship. When two people are living together, there will always be incidents that infringe on their space. It takes effort to make sure that these normal infractions do not diminish the close contact necessary between two people. Therefore, the raised toilet lid, the dirty dishes in the sink, and the channel switching must not be the norm. I do not wish to put too much emphasis on these “insignificant” examples. At the same time, I want to make sure that you understand the small telltale clues that a relationship is going sour. Your actions make the difference. A relationship starts with fireworks and bells, and then moves to routine life tasks. While we cannot keep the fireworks going all the time, the tasks of daily life must celebrate the relationship. What you can do is to avoid the growth of insensitivity.

How do you develop this insensitivity? What causes us to ignore the circumstances that create a threat to the balance of life? It is an attitude that individuals adopt. This attitude comes from misunderstanding the consequences of your actions. You act locally, without any recognition of the global impact. Each person exists within their specific domain, and fails to recognize that each domain is merely a subset of what makes up the global reality of existence. I do not believe that most individuals deliberately set out to destroy the environment. It is a simple failure to understand the symbiotic relationship of all things within a sphere as they interact within a total system. This lack of understanding develops a mindset that does not place the proper value on your surroundings. Today we have a greater awareness of our environment. However, there is still a lack of complete consideration of the impact that each of us has on the world around us. There is little understanding that the world is an integrated whole which consists of people, animals, plants, water, and land. To understand the circumstances that are creating this unhealthy attitude, we need to look at what is going on in your daily lives.

We celebrate an individual’s uniqueness and when we are not losing our defining character, we begin to form a third personality. This third personality is manifest in the convent and communion of two individuals. The two individuals do not disappear, but they develop to become a third person, which begins to form the family. We acknowledge that respect begins with an understanding that sometimes we have to step aside. Any solid relationship is not a 50/50 proposition. If you try to preserve a 50/50 arrangement, you will spend all of your time keeping score. Keeping score puts the relationship in danger. The give and take allows each individual to develop fully. We recognize the other’s hopes and fears. We allow for the weaknesses, and reinforce the strengths. When your partner achieves success, you are joyful. Focusing on the other’s growth and development should be your primary concern. When you focus on developing the other, you develop yourself. Never diminish your soul mate by criticizing or degrading their actions. Remain sensitive to the fact that life is a constant struggle and strive to provide a bulwark of support during these challenges.

When someone accepts your existence, this tells you that you have worth. You accept others not  by words, but by your actions. Pre-occupation rather than self-absorption may be the culprit for not seeing the effects of our actions. The bottom line is that we must remain vigilant. We must take the responsibility to make sure that our daily activities do not have any negative impact. Respectus as a daily act!