I think Aretha Franklin was on to something when she sang “R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me!”

It is something I feel all of us are familiar with, but not all of us demonstrate this quality on a daily basis. For me, if I have learned anything over the years it, is that respect is not an option, it is a necessity. Countless times during my youth, my parents reminded me that no matter what race, age, ethnicity, or socio-economic class someone was, they deserved respect no matter what. This lesson has stuck with me over the years and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you all.

As a person who works with people of all ages, often times I see adults, not children, having issues with this concepts. Many adults find it okay to speak down to younger people or people with less authority. Yes, I understand that people of authority do have power over the people they oversee. I also realize that older people may have more wisdom than their younger counterparts, but I think there is a key fact that has not been made evident. People in positions of power fail to realize that they can learn just as much from the younger generations as they can teach them.

Often, when conflict arises between people in these opposing groups, older people are quick to say, “It’s this young generation. They just don’t get it”. Well, I’m here to challenge that thought. Maybe it’s time to stop judging and time to start understand. Our “younger generation” is different, and the things we experience are different and unique to our generation, but that doesn’t mean that our thoughts and ideas should be pushed to the side.

Sometimes what you might find as oppositions is really just a question; probably one that you have never been asked before, but a question nonetheless. Responding in a defensive manner to these questions and thoughts only creates animosity and tension. By changing your perspective and seeing things through the eyes of the person posing these thoughts, it may allow you to gain a better understanding of where they are coming from and allow you to think differently of the situation.

All in all, I feel that we as a society need to get back to respecting one another. To me respect is treating others the way you want to be treated, no matter their age or any other differences that may lie between you and them. Wouldn’t you want someone to give your ideas and thoughts a chance? So let’s start doing that today!