Every human–and I mean every one–deserves respect. They can destroy that and have it taken away, but for the most part, they deserve it just for being part of the human race.
You can’t treat people that you perceive as beneath you as if they don’t deserve the very same respect you demand from those around you. The person cleaning the glass door that you just grabbed with five of your fingers instead of grabbing the handle deserves your respect for keeping that door clean of everyone’s (including yours!) fingerprints.
As I was walking into my office building this morning, I noticed something interesting. First, I put my phone away and was walking with my head up (shocking, I know!). Second, one of the building’s cleaning people was out picking up litter and cleaning the glass doors of our building. She looked up at everyone and smiled. The woman in front of me was face first in her cell phone, so when the cleaning woman started to say “good morning,” she realized she was being completely ignored and stopped. I was right behind, looked her in the eye, smiled, and answered her “good morning” with my own. Just as the woman ahead of me was going to go to her desk to get her day started, the woman pushing the garbage can and smiling at everyone had already gotten her day started. They may do different tasks, but they are both on the same mission–get their job done to the best of their ability. That demands respect.
Our building also houses a lot of military personnel. I think there is an enrollment center there. They are always very friendly, but only travel a couple of floors, but most of them still say “have a good day” or some other kind of greeting. Plus they are working at their jobs to protect the freedoms I take for granted. That demands respect.
Well-behaved children in shopping carts trying to make eye contact or smile at strangers (probably completely ignoring their mother’s admonition not to talk to strangers) are interesting to watch. They smile at everyone hoping to get a smile back or a quick conversation. When you do smile back, some of them will giggle or say “hello.” Even they command respect.
Respect for another person is not difficult to give them. Treat them as your equal or, better yet, as your superior, look at them with your full attention, say something to them in passing, and move on. Do not ignore them or keep your head buried in your cell phone.
One of my greatest fears for my grandchildren is that they will lose the skill of dealing with human contact. All of their communication is through their phone, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Snapchat, or on whatever is the biggest and best newest social media network. They play games with other people–on the computer or television screen with a headphone set talking to them. They don’t even go into stores anymore because they can get everything on Amazon. They don’t have the opportunity to look at a stranger and smile and that is really unfortunate. I’m afraid of how they will deal with their boss once they are in the working force. I’m afraid of them losing their smile muscle from disuse. I’m afraid that they will never know the joy of sharing your smile with a complete stranger and getting theirs in return.
So the next time you are walking into your office building, or are at a store, restaurant, or bar, or just generally out in public, put your phone away, pull your head up so everyone can see how very beautiful you are, and smile at strangers. Better yet, if you see the cleaning person making sure your office building always sparkles, tell them thank you!