The passing of an icon always brings opportunities to reflect. There is no doubt that the recent assigning of Aretha Franklin to the “late” category offers up just that chance. I just saw a cartoon, a very respectful one, on the opinion page of my local paper, with an image of the Queen of Soul. The caption read R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Thoughts came to mind of just what that meant to me before I read the content of the cartoon.
Respect is something that seems to be in short supply these days. When I look at the lyrics of Aretha’s song, I see she’s asking for a little respect from her significant other. This respect, just a little bit, is long overdue. She provides support to this individual in several ways, while he evidently carouses about with nary a care. I find it interesting that she makes no appeal for him to cease his outside behavior. Instead, she only asks that he demonstrates a modicum of respect when he gets home. That seems to me a lot less than what I would require; however, that seems adequate for peace at home.
Here’s the heart of the reflection to which I alluded earlier: We live in one of the most divided times I’ve witnessed in American history. At my age, I’ve seen many times of division. It troubles me to no end when I see public officials, elected and not, make disparaging remarks (personal attacks) about anyone. Oftentimes, divisive comments are offered up with some expedient goal in mind. There’s usually some pliable base of support that waits to hear such comments. These remarks validate what they’ve been thinking, emotionally energizes them, and gives them a sense of superiority over “those folks.” You know, “those folks” who on the outside don’t look like us. Those folks are great targets for lobbing accusations against; for placing blame on for birthing all the ills of our society. The trouble with that frame of thought though is that those folks have little collective power to influence society in the manner for which they’re being accused. I believe it would be accurate to call them scape goats.
Those folks, without doubt, have long traditions of supporting our country even with the knowledge that their sacrifices will go unnoticed. History is replete with examples of them shedding blood, sweat and tears for the good of the order. They continue to follow a model for personal growth and development, community and national support that never seems to get them the R.E.S.P.E.C.T they deserve. I don’t think I need to mention here who those folks are. You know who you are, and if you’re reading this, I can easily imagine the diversity of the makeup of your legions. I’ve been around a long time, and I’m still singing the refrain: “Just a little respect.” God loves and respects us all. Who are we to argue with Him?
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.