R E S P E C T

A news headline caught my eye today.  I forget where I saw the story first, but I have seen several versions of it as the day progressed.  Jay Z, the husband of Beyonce’ and new father to Blue Ivy Carter, will now stop using the word “bitch” in his material.  This change of heart is credited to his recently becoming a father. 

Well, bully for you, Jay Z.  I am glad to hear that you realize your responsibility to your daughter.  I am glad that you realize how derogatory that term is, and that it should not be something your daughter is exposed to by her own father.

I can’t help but wonder about your wife, however.  Why did you not stop using the term because of your love for your wife?  Why did you not think that such a term was disrespectful to her?  Or to your mother?  Or to my daughter, for that matter?  My daughter does not listen to your material by choice, because you choose to use such words. 

There was a time when using such language publicly was considered rude, and a gentleman would never have used it.  I realize that times have changed and people are much more “free” in the way they communicate now.  But I can’t help but wonder if something precious has slipped through our fingers.  As a culture, there was a certain amount of respect and decorum in all public dealings.  Men were careful around women and children, so as not to offend them.  There were standards of behavior that were the accepted norms.  Yes, it is good that some of the old ways have changed,such as racial segregation and sexist sentiment.  I wonder though if we as a culture aren’t going too far in the other direction.

It has become the norm to show disrespect to our elders, to cuss in front of children, to belittle and scorn people we disagree with.  We often say and do things without considering or caring how our actions would affect our spouse or family.  No longer do we help our neighbors, care for people around us who are in need, or put aside our “rights” in order to avoid stepping on the rights of others.  Instead, we don’t even know who are neighbors are, we don’t notice when someone is in need unless their situation somehow directly hurts our agenda, and we feel that our feelings matter above all else.

I think our culture needs a healthy dose of R E S P E C T.  We need to again learn to see other people as having valid thoughts, opinions and needs.  We need to realize that we are no more or less important than the other people around us.  We need to realize that the words and attitudes that we choose affect the people around us, whether we mean them to or not.

Words are powerful, and tossing them casually around is irresponsible in my opinion.  I am glad that Jay Z is going to stop using such a word in his material.  I hope other words will also hit the “do not use” list.  And I hope that he realizes that it will be his actions that most affect what his daughter learns from him, no matter what words he chooses to use or not use.

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