Love and respect go together; you cannot have one without the other. To respect, you must love; to love, you must respect.
I was a great fan of Aretha Franklin when I was young, and as with all things, I drifted away to other interests. I am now listening to more classical music that the soul voices, such as Aretha, Nina Simone, Etta James. I was thinking about powerful women for the last few weeks as I am reading Uppity Women, by Vicki León. (Just a note, I am reading this little by little to absorb the image and strength of these women).
Franklin wrote, we all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right. As we think about words, such as these, we must accept that when God create man and woman, He created them as equals; according to the Bible, Adam and then Eve were created; I read and study the Bible, but I take many stories such as this as symbolic metaphors that we can learn from. . .with an open mind.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. All I’m askin for is a little respect. What a powerful lyric of few words but monumental significance and importance. As a white male, I cannot complain about the life given me by God. However, there were times that I felt that I was not given the respect that I thought was missing. I almost used the word mine instead of missing, but that would have been too egotistical, and egotism must be addressed as a curse on society. It is what causes much of the stress and troubles in the world.
Even though I was in leadership positions many times, I felt diminished by those who should have been my peers. As an officer of the merchants’ division of the local chamber of commerce, when I was the owner of a photography store, I was ignored by larger, more wealthy storeowners, even though I was elected by them as a leader, sort of a servant leader, a puppet, because the other merchants did not want to do the day-to-day chores of leadership. When I was elected to my church executive council, I lacked a voice because I was only a retailer, not a banker or lawyer. When I returned to school and earned a Masters’ Degree in European history, which allowed me to be a teacher, my peers on the executive council still did not accept me as an equal. Maybe I was not rich enough for them; I don’t know. There were, however, one or two who did accept me, and together we forged ahead, especially when it came to helping and feeding the homeless. So, it was not all a lost program.
When I moved to a new home in Virginia, from New Jersey, I was met as a professional, a professor at a local college. I then felt the respect that a Doctor of Literature should have. I earned it, even though I was then 66 years old. Jesus said in the Bible that a prophet is not respected in his home village; that’s because people remember as just a carpenter, or me as just a small-time retailer. First impressions and first images are impossible to forget.
I know that this has been about my self-imposed image, but I am getting to the point of this meditation. As a white male, I had to fight for every atom of respect. But, as a white male, people were able to see me for what I had attained.
In the case of a woman, or a person of color, o a person who looks different that the dominant, white-male society, the image never changes; you are always viewed as a woman, or a person of color. Something different, something to be questioned, or to be looked down upon. I feel shame for being a part of a society that is so narrow-minded, even though I have always opened my heart to all people.
This is why Aretha, Nina, and Etta are important voices. They let us know that our society is not a wonderful Cinderella dream; it is a violent, closed, bigoted society that does not allow for others to be equal. This is shameful; this is not what God intended. In God’s eyes we are equal; in God’s eyes we are all his children, equal in every respect. This means that we are all brothers and sisters to each other, sharing the same Love give us by god. Sharing the same R-E-S-P-E-C-T. given by God. All She (God) is askin for is a little respect.
I love you all, my brothers and sisters, and I pray that your day is as blessed as mine.