The Word is Respect

newspaper 150x150 The Word is RespectBack to school. New acquaintances. New teachers. Respect seems a fitting choice for the PACE (Partners Advancing Character Education*) Character Word for September.  

“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”
—Albert Einstein

Many years ago I read a short story by Kurt Vonnegut which I remember as focusing on a wealthy New Yorker who invites an old school chum to his condo for a drink. The wealthy man looks at his schoolmate’s tired face, cast-off clothes, and reluctance to talk about himself and judges him as a loser. He acts rudely and impatiently with him and can’t wait for him to leave.

A day or so later, the wealthy man’s wife comes home with news. The old school chum is a medical doctor and activist for social justice who has spent the last 30 years setting up and working with international NGOs like the real-life Dr. Paul Farmer. The character has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The wealthy man is ashamed, but the old school chum now wants nothing to do with him.

That story (or my memory of it, which may not be exact) floated back into my mind when I meditated on the word “Respect.” PACE defines respect as “recognizing, considering, and properly honoring the worth of one’s self and of others”—and, I would add, despite outward appearances or differences.

Do you know of a company or an individual that has demonstrated this character word recently? Recognize them here!

*PACE is a Spokane Valley partnership between the faith community, school district, parents, kids, and businesses. The goal is to promote ethical behavior.


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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.