True respect requires action

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True respect requires action

Lane Dehnel, Community Editor

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Walking through a middle or high school hallway on an average day, there’s a good chance you’ll hear a racist, homophobic, or ableist comment. You’ll hear someone calling someone “gay” as a synonym for bad or foolish, or a group of kids using offensive words to describe just about anything. The sad thing is, there’s also a good chance you’re one of those kids.

You could be acting or speaking offensively for any number of reasons. It seems to be what all the “popular” kids are doing. Does that make it okay? Think about who you’re affecting when you say something homophobic or sexist. Think about who would be hurt by that sexist or racist term. Think about what you’re saying to that whole group of people who you just generalized negatively. You may think about this for a moment, then tell yourself it doesn’t really matter (or something along those lines). Well, now you’re about to hear something that’ll make you roll your eyes: put yourself in their shoes. Put yourself in the shoes of the disadvantaged, unfairly judged, innocent people you just insulted and mocked. I hope that in your mind, it’s not so funny anymore.

But true respect also goes beyond avoiding pointing, laughing, and name-calling. Respect is an active thing. ”

Respecting everyone seems like a simple topic, yet some just can’t seem to figure it out. There’s simply no reason or excuse to judge someone because they look or act differently from the people you know. You don’t get to point and laugh at someone with a learning disability for being born with a learning disability. You don’t get to call people names or use offensive language or do anything else to disrespect someone’s existence. But true respect also goes beyond avoiding pointing, laughing, and name-calling. Respect is an active thing. Respecting someone isn’t just about leaving them alone; it’s about treating them fairly. Truly, it’s not even that hard to go above and beyond and stand up for someone when they’re being picked on.

Tomorrow you see a kid in the hallway being picked on for any reason. They’re “different” from the rest. Maybe they’re LGBTQ+, maybe they have a disability, or maybe they just have unusual interests. What do you do? If you’re treating them with respect and accepting their differences, you’ll leave them alone at the very least. This may sound like a generic anti-bullying campaign, but think about what you can do to help. If you’re thinking about what you can do to help, you’re headed in the right direction.

Next time you see a kid being bullied in the hall, or someone calling a kid something offensive, think about what you’re going to do. Are you going to join in? Hopefully not. Are you going to walk away? Not the best solution. Are you going to help someone out of an unfair situation? You know that’s the right way to go.

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