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Respect for others

IT was a Sunday mass, the first that I attended in a foreign country many years ago. The church-goers’ clothes were so varied that somehow you would realize how culturally diverse New Zealand was (it still is). What I noticed during the communion so amazed me that I wish I had a picture of it.

I wish we could also embrace and celebrate diversity like they do in New Zealand. Related terms come to mind – tolerance, acceptance, respect, and inclusion. I wish we could also respect each person’s uniqueness, appearance, and choices… including opinions, political affiliations, and religious beliefs. You may say we already do – but, how well?

If we respect each other enough, ours would be a culture of inclusion, not exclusion or division. We would not be pre-occupied with labels and colors, especially in deciding how to treat a person and in choosing recipients of services. We would not be so particular with the regions. (Can’t we just call ourselves “Filipinos”?)

We would not be calling dark-skinned or brown-skinned people names. We would treat 60-year old men like we treat men in their 30’s. Opportunities would be given based on merit/qualifications and not based on age, affiliation, or gender.

Do we exclude people because they have a different background or because they are differently abled? Do we respect other people’s uniqueness and choices?

When we see a social media post that expresses an opinion which is exactly the opposite of ours, do we suppress the urge to post a contradicting comment? Wouldn’t it be better to just use our own say, Facebook wall – so that we would not be offending anyone?

Respecting people and making programs/policies/decisions inclusive are such good concepts that need further reflection. As Michael Jackson’s song goes, “I’m looking at the man in the mirror/I’m asking him to change his ways/ And no message could have been any better/If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change”!

(Marilyn Arayata: your partner in preventing bullying, depression, and suicide. E-mail inspire.equip@gmail.com)
(Marilyn C. Arayata)