• Grace A. Johnson

Disrespect: Another Form of Bullying


You’re almost guaranteed to disagree. We all have our own opinions, views, ideas, beliefs. The idea of being totally in sync with someone is pretty outlandish, wouldn’t you say?

Make no mistake, I have no such illusions. I know that being of one mind in every aspect is basically impossible in this life - and I’m good with that. I disagree with my grandparents on theological views. I disagree with one of my best friends about popular music. I disagree with my sister about her pets. I disagree with people I don’t even know, simply because I have some slightly less-than-popular beliefs.

We’re all entitled to our own opinion and, at least here in America, we have the right to express it.

But that’s where disrespect comes in.

You see, my sister is a cat-lover, and over the course of the last few months, she’s joined several cat forums to gain insight and offer advice. Nothing too radical, right? Well, she found herself in a toxic community that stifled the expression of her opinions (seeing as how they didn’t align with their own) and disrespected her and her views. Instead of allowing her to gently state her opinion (or, in some cases, a fact), she was criticized and basically bullied - mainly for being in favor of breeding cats and not condoning kitty abortions.

Personally, I’ve begun to notice how someone I know is very heavy-handed in stating their beliefs and opinions - almost to the point where I feel like I’m being damned for silently disagreeing. They show little respect in how they present their views, even though it’s guaranteed that someone (in many cases, I) will disagree. To be honest, it hurts my feelings, because I do disagree on some accounts and it’s not as friendly as it ought to be - even though some of these opinions are simple things like favorite or least favorite books or clothing choices. Other acquaintances and friends show respect by presenting their opinions as opinions - not as facts - and by leaving the conversation open for me to agree or disagree without feeling like I’m an idiot or am being bullied.

Does that makes sense? Have you been in one of those situations before?

Probably so, because so often on social media, public forums, and in real life conversations, people are put down because of what they believe. Trust me, my family has been the victim of bullying for many, many years now - even amongst our friends. And it’s painful, even though we know that the thoughts of others is not what defines us.

That’s why I’m urging all of you to show respect when you’re engaging in a dialogue, posting on social media, or chatting with your friends. Whether you’re wrong or right, whether someone stands up and disagrees or not, please show respect. Don’t dis other people for what they believe. I don’t care if they’re Catholic, Muslim, or liberals.

Show respect.

They believe what they believe for a reason - even if you know it’s wrong.

So show respect.

I know I’m guilty of being disrespectful myself, for which I apologize. You have my permission to call me out on it or to stand up for your opinions if you ever feel like I’m putting you down for them.

I’m not asking you to accept their belief system or applaud them for their views - I’m just asking you to state opinions as opinions and facts as facts. To be mindful that not everyone is going to agree with you - and that’s okay. If you’re gently presenting your views, you might even plant the seed of change in their hearts and minds. But beating them over the head for belonging to a certain denomination, or not vaccinating, or not going to college, or breeding their cat, or not wearing a bikini, or wanting to get married and have kids isn’t going to help. Starting an argument never helps.

Proverbs says that a harsh word stirs up anger, but a soft answer turns away wrath.

Let’s not stir up anger or incur wrath. Let’s not bully other people. Let’s be mindful of the people we talk with and what they may think on the matter. Let’s speak gently, lovingly, as Christ would - not causing an argument or starting up a debate, but being a beacon of hope instead of a battering ram of justice.

Let’s show R-E-S-P-E-C-T. (Great song, by the way. At least, in my opinion. You’re welcomed to disagree. If you do disagree, what is it about the song that you dislike? I’d like to understand the reasoning behind your opinions so that I can come to a better understanding of how you think.)

Anyway...there’s that. I just had this on my chest after I got my feelings bruised last night (my feelings are more tender than they appear). It’s not new, though. I’ve been here before. My whole family’s been here before, and it’s just something that needs to be said.

Maybe this helps you to see things more clearly...or to know that you’re not alone.

Because you’re never alone. And that’s a fact.


#bullying #todaysculture #respect #bechristlike


Bookishly yours,

Grace


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