Life Skills: Teaching Respect – What If We Treated The Earth The Way We Treat Our Friends?

What would the world look like if nobody showed respect for each other in the community?  Respect is “being treated in a way that demonstrates empathy for how we might feel in the same situation”.  I recently heard a quote that paraphrased said, it was easier to condemn another than it is to understand them.  Empathy and respect are so interrelated in our day to day life and also in the way we treat the environment.  Are we trying to understand our place here on this planet in relation to fellow humans and our home the Earth?

In our community we demonstrate empathy with a smile to those around us. Don’t all of us appreciate a kind word and a smile from another?  We clean up our trash or mess so that others can enjoy the area at a park.  Do we not appreciate an area we are about to use being clean and neat?   We speak kindly to those that are serving our needs at a restaurant, doctors office, grocery store.  Would we not appreciate the patience of others while we are serving their needs?  What would it look like if no one smiled at each other, if they left a mess for others to deal with, if they were noisy at the library or while we were working, if they bumped into us as we walked down the street and then gruffly dismissed us?   Our world would certainly not be a pleasant place to be.

Now the question is, What will our earth look like if we do not reduce what we are taking from it, reduce the amount of “messes” we leave for it?  What will our environment be like if we do not show respect for our home Earth?  Will there be beautiful and usable beaches and forests, mountains and animals for our children in the future?

If we had a friend that was constantly taking from us, who came to visit and left messes for us to clean up, who used our resources and never gave back, or helped clean up and never said thank you, how would that feel?  Is the earth and its resources just an object, a commodity that is here for us to use anyway that we want, without any regard to its needs?  Is our community a place that we exist without regard to our neighbors and future generations?  Is it enough for us to go through the motions of “recycling”, without reducing or reusing?

Awareness is the key to action.  The closer we draw ourselves and our children to the principles of respect and examine it in all of our relationships including our environment, I am sure that we will see greater empathy, compassion and actions that will build stronger families, schools, communities and world and a better environment.   Respect is not an act or something that we just do.  Respect is what we are, to ourselves, our family, acquaintances,  and strangers. Respect is how we treat our possessions, resources, and our environment.  Respect is the first step to creating peace in our world.

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