Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Respect Issue

For the first semester of my freshman year of high school, I had a teacher, who I'll call Mrs. McConnell, who failed me.  I don't mean that she gave me a "F"; I mean that she didn't do a very good job of teaching, especially in my case.  Not only was she absent for a week at a time more than once, but she didn't follow the plan that had been set up because of my "condition".  My mom urged me to switch to another English class for second semester, and I did...but that teacher wasn't much better.  Mrs. McConnell wasn't even there the whole year; just after second semester started, her other job caused her to never return to teaching...and neither I nor anyone in the special education department missed her.

Despite her negative traits, Mrs. McConnell did one thing right, and it was something that other teachers, even some of the good ones, didn't do: She put a note in the substitute's lesson plans about the accommodations for my "condition," such as using the computer.  Substitutes had given me flak about that well before high school; I was infuriated one time in fifth grade when a sub wouldn't listen when I begged and pleaded with her that I wasn't supposed to cut anything out.  After she made me do it anyway, I vented to my mom about how she had "violated" the rule.  My mom said that those kinds of problems would happen...but, they didn't in Mrs. McConnell's class.  To this day, I don't know why an otherwise terrible teacher like her helped me out on that front, but other instructors who were usually great failed me in that regard.

Believe it or not, what happened with Mrs. McConnell has happened countless times with other people whom I know or have known.  Various people have done the unthinkable to me, or defended others for doing so, and have made me tempted to unfriend them...and not just in the Facebook sense! Yet, when other parties describe those people, they say things such as, "They're the best friends you've ever had!", "They are your biggest advocates! There's no excuse, disability or not, for your comments about them!", "He likes you and you don't even know it!", "She is your biggest fan!", or other similar adulations.  It's true that some of the individuals they were describing did some great things for me...but they also did some terrible things as well! If they could be that wonderful some of the time...why couldn't they be that way all of the time?

One of my big things has always been respect.  If you don't respect me and/or what I do, then, it's going to drive a wedge between us.  When it comes to my interactions with people, I tend to respond in kind.  If someone is nice and sweet to me, unless I'm in a horrible mood, I'll be just as kind to them; however, if someone comes up to me and starts chewing me out over nothing, or thinks they have the right to make fun of me for being a Disney Channel fan, I'm not going to react very kindly.  I may not say much of anything to the person responsible, but someone will definitely hear about it, likely my parents.  Unfortunately, too many people I know or have known act in a way that seems to foster disrespect, though they don't seem to realize it.

Back in 2003, I witnessed an online debate where one of the arguing parties said something that has stuck with me ever since: "Whatever happened to edification or spurring one another on to good works?" You may recognize that as a reference to the Bible, but, regardless of your religious beliefs, I'm sure we can all agree that hatred only breeds more hatred.  Instead of tearing each other down, we need to be building each other up...but, it seems like the entire world is bent on the former.  That's why I ask myself that question fairly often, especially after unpleasant interactions with so-called "friends".

You may remember the whole debacle a few years back when a comment on a Facebook friend's status led to the ending of a once-good friendship.  If you do, you've probably read or heard the oft-quoted lament from that former friend: "That's just great! Some actress you're never going to meet gets more respect than a real-life friend! Yes, I'm being sarcastic!" Honestly, I have found my favorite celebrities easy to respect, and here's why: I don't actually know them.  It may seem like I do, because many actors and actresses are best known for one role, but they roles they play and who they really are can be quite different.  There are times when celebrities break many people's hearts, such as when beloved actor/comedian Robin Williams committed suicide some years ago; that was a slap in the face to the scores of moviegoers whom he had made laugh during his career.  Still, my favorite people from Tinseltown can't do to me what the people I actually know have done...because they simply don't know me.  If I truly know someone, that means that I don't just know their good points; I know their flaws as well...and sometimes more in depth than I ever wanted to.

Believe it or not, this concept actually relates to the relationship issue, and here's why: I don't want to be in a relationship--even a platonic one, such as a close friendship--with someone whom I can't respect.  Unfortunately, there are too many people who I should be able to respect, but just can't because of their actions towards me...yet, they're the people who are said to be my "biggest advocates" or "the best friends I've ever had."  Even if a relationship started out sweet and innocent at first, people change over time, and the wife I once considered an angel from heaven could suddenly become the thorn in my side...which would drive me insane and have me begging and pleading for a way out.

That may be why I've been seemingly providentially hindered from being in a relationship: God doesn't want me to go through such pain.  While other people could just brush unfortunate comments off, such words would stick with me for years regardless of who said them.  I'm still haunted by horrible things people said to me as far back as elementary school.  Being close to someone--whether in marriage or otherwise--gives them the opportunity to hurt me...which is something I don't want to give anyone.

Now, for my conclusion: It seems that people don't take the wrong things they do seriously; even when someone else is obviously hurt or otherwise negatively affected, they don't seem to care.  I know that people are going to wrong me--it's part of life!--but, it's not about who has wronged me and how; it's about how they feel about what they've done.  If they have the decency to come to me and apologize, or they somehow make up for what they've done, then I can respect that.  What I can't respect is when people give me the proverbial slap in the face and not feel a single shred of remorse, even if I'm in tears or in a rage because of what they've done.  Such actions do nothing but foster disrespect...yet, people act that way all the time towards me.  If you're on my side, then, act like it; otherwise, I don't have any reason to believe that you're my friend!

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