• Sara F. Hathaway

Loss of Respect

Respect is a topic that not many people are talking about now-a-days. It may even seem like an old fashioned idea but it is worth defining. Society at large is walking a slippery slope as respect diminishes more and more. However, having respect for others is key to the health of society in many ways. Our current society is encouraging less and less respect for one another which will eventually erode the societal fabric we all depend on more and more. Martial Arts training can be key to restoring respect in both the youth and adults alike.

It's almost sad that I have to do so but I think it is necessary to provide an explanation of what respect means. Showing respect indicates that you recognize the value of another individual. You take their thoughts into consideration even if you don't agree with them because you value their opinions. Being respectful also means that you are responsible for all of your actions and the effects they have on others.

Somewhere along the line, our respect for other individuals started to slip away. Religious beliefs eroded. One of the Ten Commandments is: due unto others as you would have done unto yourself, but as religious beliefs became less and less relevant so did the respect for the Ten Commandments. The emergence of social media allowed people to hide behind a key board, hurling horrible words at one another with no personal accountability for their actions. Another trend that is unsettling is that, showing respect is somehow degrading. There is a belief that if you show respect it makes you weak. Greed and the trend to value monetary achievements above all else has further degraded the respect that we give to other societal members. Finally, the leaders of American Society have plunged into a horrible cycle of lack of respect for one another. The leaders of a society set the precedence for the members and they certainly aren't showing any class now-a-days.

The effects of this lack of respect on American Society are becoming more evident everyday. Respect maintains a civilized society. If the laws of a country are not respected, they mean nothing. The erosion of respect has plunged American society into an endless back and forth of verbal assaults with no clear resolution in sight. There are times that even when you are offended, you should keep your mouth shut and listen to the thoughts of another individual. This requires respect or you will only be listening to find a way to further your ideas rather than listening to gain understanding. The media is on a wicked spiral of lack of respect. They showcase the most outlandish, rude, mean, and loud behavior because it gets ratings. The attention that they give this behavior encourages societal members to behave accordingly because that is how they are being taught by the news media to behave.

Martial Arts training teaches respect on every level of personal behavior inside and outside of class. In Taekwondo, as in most styles, respect is one of the main tenants, or beliefs. When you start training, you are immediately taught to respect your instructors and higher belts because they have put in the hard work to achieve an advanced skill level. You will find out very quickly that obtaining an advanced skill level in any martial arts takes a lot of work and practice. You respect your instructors because they tell you to, but also because they are there for you. They care about you and want to watch your skill level and personal development increase. They respect you. They respect your decision to come to the school and train. Leadership skills that you obtain while training martial arts helps you to excel in all parts of your life because you will learn to respect others that are doing their best on their own personal journeys.

Any children that are faltering with respect should be immediately enrolled into a martial arts program. Respect is not being taught and society is not setting a good example for the next generation. Parents and martial arts instructors can form a partnership to help the child understand the importance of respect. Martial arts training provides an environment where respect is not only taught but the example is present among the students every step of the way. In order to excel, they need to be respectful. This example can flow over into every facet of their life, making them intelligent problem identifiers and solvers rather than followers and complainers that do nothing to set a positive example for the next generations that will be learning from them.

"Respect should be mandatory and should never be expected of others without our own commitment to civility."

Deb McMahon, Americans need to remember the importance of respect

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