Have you ever seen those memes come around about being spanked with hand, belt or wooden spoon and how it means one learned respect for elders?  Well, that was not my experience.  I learned deference perhaps, but no respect was generated within such encounters.  Respect is either granted or earned not demanded or enforced, at least not in my experience and observation.

According to the definitions of each, deference may be granted respectfully and respect may be exhibited through deference, but there exists a difference, doesn’t there?

Respect:

                – esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability:

                 I have great respect for her judgment.

Respect is esteem granted.

Deference:

respectful submission or yielding to the judgment, opinion, will, etc., of another.

Deference is the submitting or yielding that may be done in a respectful manner but not necessarily involving actual esteem for another.

                 – deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment:

                  respect for a suspect’s right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.

Deference is an outward behavior associated with respect.  But the two, true esteem and outward acquiescence are not necessarily always entwined.

When Confucius observed the respect and obedience of the senior by the junior, he also observed consideration and protection of the junior by the senior.  Elders may choose to respect youth to enhance their self-esteem despite their outward manner revealing a lack thereof and perhaps earn respect in return.  But this seems to have been lost in Western culture during earlier generations where “children should be seen but not heard” was one of several such expectations of the day.  Deference to authority via behavior modification tactics, like spanking and emotional manipulation, had been the norm, and this had cascaded into most authoritative relationships, whether patriarchal structures in business and religion or police and school teachers.  But I will continue to argue that deference is not respect.  It is deference, an outward behavior of acquiescence regardless of whether true respect is involved.

In later generations, parents are learning new ways to treat children as their own people, as emotional beings who deserve guidance and support versus punishment and behavior modification.  We now have the opportunity to model consideration and vulnerability to the enhancement of our parent-child relationships.  Therefore, positions of authority – elders, police, business leaders and management – are less granted the deference to which they may be accustomed or expecting, for all their years of deference to their own authority figures.  They are faced with having to exhibit consideration and protection of their subordinates and underlings to earn actual respect.  And this is a tough space to be.

In social science terms, we discuss personal and positional agency.  There is a greater requirement now for personal agency even within authoritative positions because the position itself does no longer necessarily command deference.  The person in authority is more required to exhibit respectful behaviors themselves so that respect becomes a reciprocal aspect of a relationship based in mutual esteem.  This is where love resides and productivity excels.

If you are one of those in authority – a parent, manager or leader of some kind, it will do everyone well to let go expectations of deference (or in some’s terms, respect) and rather develop mutually respectful relationships.  For despite the agency we may have traditionally afforded positions of authority, is it real or beneficial to keep faking it through mere deference?

I awoke this morning with the thought: let go of all that does not serve your purpose.

Upon pondering this thought and in the context of my own experience and in the experiences that I witness being played out by others, I came upon a realization that although we are always who we are at our core (where our purpose resides), we are either living in awareness of what that is or have it hidden from us based on whether we were molded to be, in myriad ways, or whether we were guided through our choices. This is, of course, nothing new. I am simply catching up more deeply to something discovered in a series of workshops back in 2007-2008.

Like many, perhaps most, children, I was required to behave in a manner conforming to societal expectations. This has been the acceptable mode for generations. Some of us are lucky enough to at some point, usually later in life, begin shedding that behavioral programming. One of the simplest examples I can give of this programming is the expectation of altruism, the concept of doing for others. I still witness this, this programming our children to think of others first. Now, don’t get me wrong, the concept is a good one, just not when it is programmed through typical behavior modification. The concept is best applied and most effective for all concerned when we arrive at it by choice. And, it is sad, really, because children can be very altruistic. There are, in fact, plenty of opportunities to nurture this tendency, but we seem to miss those and, instead, force the behavior in situations where it is not naturally present. Or, we miss asking the right questions to invite the choice.

As a result, we end up with many of our adult society begrudgingly living life for everyone else, self-molding to external expectations. This was my experience, and one that I witness now as fairly common, perhaps because I am on my journey of breaking free from it. I find it sad that so many are living a life of conforming to others’ expectations and suffering in the process. This has led to a great victimization cycle in society – meeting expectations then subconsciously begrudging and blaming everyone else for programmed choices. The rules have changed, and are changing, and those programmed to the old rules are struggling, simply because we have not learned how to make choices based in our own (guided) experience and wisdom.

Now maybe, if you’re following me on this, some have less programming to shed than others, but this has been the norm, subconscious in many ways, for all this time. There is hope, though. Recent generations are revealing a shift, generally speaking. The problem is that it is a shift to extreme, so that many are confounded by what is happening, and younger generations appear a bit lost because, as usual, parents come with good intentions but a lack of know-how. We haven’t developed the most effective process for nurturing our children to choose wisely and within the context of existing societal rules. The result seems to be a generation of rebellion against those societal norms. I remain hopeful, though, because the problem has been so changed up that we are looking at it differently, and it provides us opportunity to affect a more effective solution.

Maybe it has occurred to you already? That the partisan state of politics is what has stagnated our country in so many ways at the state and federal levels? We have come to a standoff with each other, no longer a country united, but a country divided, and “a house divided cannot stand.” Right?

Historically, it has been times of trouble that have brought the country together. We have gone to war together, and rightly so, when it was truly necessary, but that doesn’t seem as clear to us anymore. Can going to war be a sustainable purpose? I think not. Though we are much more aware and even connected to major conflict around the world, over the centuries and even decades, the number of major conflicts has diminished. We are now dealing with late bloomers and fringes, for all intents and purposes. So, no, war will not sustain us, and especially that of our own instigation outside our borders.

The big question in my mind is, what are the common vision, mission and values we can rally toward as a country that do not speak to destruction but to a brighter evolution for us?

Is it possible for us to break away from pundits and partisan politics to really sit down together and truly communicate to discover what is truly our common good? Can we stop interpreting our past into partisan beliefs to discover who we are and what we truly stand for in the 21st century?

Without a way for us all to look forward in one direction, I fear we are bound to keep traveling in circles, going anywhere but where we might all want to go.

  • The first step is to get away from our rhetoric of accusations – this is obvious in all media, news and social especially.
  • The second is to share our perspectives and interpretations respectfully and truthfully – which may require some personal reflection and introspection, because we all too often spout off what we hear that seems to match what we think we believe.
  • The third is to listen.  Listen with open minds, and yes, hearts, too, to what our fellow citizens are trying to share with us.

If we could each, as individuals, do more to hear each other out and seek to understand, I don’t know the exact outcome, but I am fairly certain that it will be a far sight better than the state we are in now.

Previous words still pertinent, perhaps more, today.

Nurture the Goose

In the current climate of “freedom of conscience”, I have been pondering what freedom means.  I can’t help but return again and again to words of Byron Katie in Loving What Is: “There is my business, your business and God’s business.”  For the less religiously or spiritually inclined, it might read, “There is my business, your business and nobody’s business.”  And, as George Constanza so eloquently bellows, “You know, we’re living in a society!!”

Living in a society, how do we preserve “my business” or the freedom of the individual?  When it comes to “freedom of conscience”, have we the freedom to apply our conscience to the actions of others?  The answer for me is, quite simply, no.  I apply my conscience to my choices and allow others their conscience and their choices.  This is the freedom to be legislated and what I believe our forefathers were after, a freedom…

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Emotion is as important to our professional lives as thinking. For far too long, emotion has been discounted out of the American concept of professionalism. This makes sense since by simple observation, emotion would appear to be the more complex element of humanity between the two, and regardless of whether we pay attention to it or not, it is there. It informs us when something isn’t right and needs to be corrected, resolved or redirected. It underlies our decision making, and so much more not readily delineated.

It has also been observed that some personality types are more subject to, even driven by, emotion. So, there are at least two development tracks when it comes to emotion. One either needs to develop attention to emotion in order to be more consciously informed by it, or one has a need to separate from emotion in order to manage one’s response to it, to move away from reacting to it.

Neither is new. The practice of meditation in yoga has been around longer than American society, and one of the great many benefits yoga provides is the practice of observing the physical body, thoughts in the mind body and feelings of the emotional body. In my experience, emotion has been the most difficult to observe simply because I am one of those on the emotionally reactive side of the equation. For a good length of time I confused emotion with my intuition and proverbial gut instinct, which made it harder to come to terms with the separation required to observe and consciously apply it.

Emotion is much less simple than thinking, and it needs great care to develop awareness of it and a conscious response to it. Truth is, it is always there, underlying intuition, gut instinct, decision-making and even informing our thoughts, so we would do well as a society to take heed and incorporate emotion rather than continue to deny and combat its existence.

Fare thee well,
~ Jacqueline

No doubt, many sense that not is all right with our society. What some do not seem to realize is a wave of civil terrorism afoot, and not by those we are being led to believe through “hitleresque” propaganda and fear mongering. Do we really think the likes of the KKK and Skin Heads have simply gone away? It is my observation that no, they have simply made their way into religion and politics, continuing to drive an agenda of hatred, preying on existing fears that all is not right with the world, seeking their sense of entitlement to supreme power.

The tyranny our forefathers saw to obstruct by creating a constitutional republic was not, in fact, that of government but of the existing governing body, a ruling class of royalty – a class of the financially and power entitled. Our forefathers sought, with the constitution and the formation of a democratic republic, to obstruct the ability of tyranny against the individual by any organized power. They sought to build a governing body elected and thereby in essence ruled by the citizenry of this great country. Our constitutional government has, over its mere two centuries, existed to preserve the rights of the individual, and still seeks to do so for the most part, but in more recent decades has been slowly infiltrated by the likes of civil terrorists, often in the name of religion, looking to undo the rights of the individual so that their agenda of entitlement to superiority might be driven.

So, in this effort, the likes of the KKK and Skin Heads have joined ranks with what is too quickly becoming a ruling oligarchy, preying on our fears with rhetoric of a tyrannical government when in truth it is their ruling class form of tyranny they espouse and pursue. Have we not all heard the phrases, “takes one to know one” and “the pot calling the kettle black”? We left a ruling class of elitist royalty but have now entered an era of an elitist oligarchy supported by an elitist army of white supremacists. This, too, unfortunately, is an historical part of our founding, given the machine of slavery for which our forefathers and this country are infamous, yet perhaps too forgiven.

Why else does our education system continue to lag the rest of the free world? Perhaps to enable a tyrannical class to infiltrate and upend the very system our forefathers put into place to avoid, that this would-be ruling class would have us believe is the very problem. And perhaps it is indeed becoming so?  It has been a slow coup, and many probably haven’t even realized their part in it. It can be seen in the erosion of politics as a short term service to the populace into a long term career opportunity; in the gerrymandering of voting districts to remain in power; in the likes of Citizens United – which is, I would hope obvious by now – a uniting of the ruling oligarchy and supremacists by making ownership of business representative of those they employ. Really? Do we really think that everyone in an organization would knowingly support the wishes of an entitled would-be ruling class? Well, we do. Our fear is great enough, and they are wily enough to convince us to do so, because in truth, it is simply human nature at work. They may not, excepting a few, even recognize themselves as the civil terrorists they are. Power simply has an unruly effect, and when the same had already been hiding out in the name of religion, our sensibilities on that front had been eroded, except where – in our primary case – Christ’s own anti-tyranny message has gotten through despite best efforts otherwise.

It has been more than a few times that someone from an earlier generation has begun a diatribe on the calamities of a later generation. Each time, I have stopped them with the phrase, “We are from whence we came.”

I cannot experience WWII as my grandparents did simply because they created an experience absent of  World War.  My generation brought forth technology and consumerism which created the experience of more current generations.  In this, we cannot deny the influence each generation has upon the next and all those that come after.

We would do well not to abdicate the role we play as a generation in what we see as the demise of those that come after us.  Quite simply, “We made it possible.”

Most respectfully,

~ Jacqueline