A little R-e-s-p-e-c-t, or a lot

Posted 7.22.17

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Just back from a Zydeco festival in Louisiana, a musician friend was steamed up - - about garbage, not music. "When the music was over and everyone rolled up their blankets, the venue was 10 inches deep in trash! Wasn't our generation past all that?" (expletives omitted).

He noted the trash cans, often emptied, were ignored by many. People finished their beers and "just tossed the cans on the grass". Take-out cartons, programs, wrapping, bottles and cartons - - "a three acre field of trash."

He concluded too many of us still don't consider our environment, and, although that was the States, he cited awful examples here at home. No respect.

Another visitor this spring commented that kids - - even Millennials - - don't show much respect for their elders. "One of my son's friends, a professional guy, told me that senior citizens 'have to earn my respect'!" Our visitor was still annoyed: "Those seniors raised him - - isn't that enough?"

Apparently not. And it would be interesting to know if there's any link between the lack of respect for our environment and lack of respect in family and civil-society matters. It's now common to tie this attitude to Trump's "screw-you" style, but surely it's older than the latest celebrity-president.

Here, there's been such an effort create an environmental sensitivity, that it's hard to picture Canadians mimicking the Zydeco fans. We do use trash cans, and pick up after ourselves. It's common to see folks carrying a plastic bottle or item retrieved from a walk on the beach or a trail.

Larger evidence of environmental disrespect is in the way we cut down trees or pave over almost everything. In the way we approve mining, logging, pipeline and drilling projects - - Trudeau's approval of drilling in the Gulf of St Lawrence preserve, the latest obscenity. Canada's progress isn't sterling on these scales, even if we're good at most picnic sites.

Respect for others, elders in particular, is a different kettle of fish. Of course elders deserve our respect - - they did raise us! And it must have been a hell of a job, fighting off the hucksters selling music, drugs, movies and clothes (for starters) to kids. Our national sport of consumerism is where the two types of respect intersect.

But, yes, respect is a two-way street. Respect comes after responsibilities are met, and we all do have responsibilities. Elders who have little to say other than platitudes they've heard on TV aren't going to generate much respect, nor those who rag on about modern fads (forgetting their own generation's silliness).

I'm all for respecting elders, being one, but all for elders also paying their respects - - to the environment, to others, to changing ideas and styles. A little more respect all around, by everyone, to everything (like Buddhists), would be a healthy thing. Respect is a web, and it keeps our entire society afloat. It's social grease.


Copyright © 2017 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/7.17