Good morning again, today is Friday, July 16, 2021, coming to you from the glorious Emerald City that is Seattle, WA. This month we’ve been teaching in-person classes, and it’s been so good to get back to working with students in the same room. Classes are still small, masks are still required, because COVID cases are again on the rise. I’m asking that all students who are eligible be vaccinated, and guess what, you have been! Sure it’s been a small, self-selected sample, and yet it seems that everyone has been eagerly forthright about their vaccination status. You’ve been considerate of the needs of, and risks to, all class participants (that includes yourself).
And that brings us to RESPECT. Not just a great Aretha Franklin song. The word does have a range of nuance, like most meaningful words, and these nuances and contexts make a difference.
You can respect a position. Someone’s job title, station in life, authority. You don’t have to like that person, you don’t have to agree with that person, you don’t have to know that person, and you can still respect their authority. Teachers, pastors, coaches, law enforcement, those are some of the typical positions that expect their authority will be respected.
You can respect a person who has a position of authority. You can hold that individual in high esteem, you can admire them, even revere them. You may consider them an expert. You may not know much about them as a person, but you hold their public persona or accomplishments in high regard. Dr. Anthony Fauci fills that roll for many today.
Or maybe someone you know personally has earned your respect, via their actions and behavior, their honesty and integrity and even expertise.
According to my pocket dictionary/thesaurus, one expectation of this kind of respect can be deference. A yielding to someone else’s authority.
According to this same dictionary, here’s another aspect to respect. Consideration for others’ rights and wishes. This is how you show respect. On one side, there’s the respect coming to you, on the other there’s you showing respect for someone.
And then there’s the respect of treating someone like, well, another human. Not dependent on status or position or wealth. A basic level of respect, due to the fact that all humans are created equal.
So, what does this have to do with your personal safety? I’ll bet you can see where this is going. There can be conflict when a person has status or a job title or accomplishments and they assume they’re owed respect, but their personal behavior is less than respectable. And maybe they feel you’re not showing enough deference. They may say, or imply, something like since you’re not respecting them, they won’t respect you either. Meaning if you don’t defer to them, they will cease treating you like a human. But these two aspects of respect are neither equivalent nor interchangeable. This is becomes a power dynamic.
In our self-defense classes we talk a lot about recognizing “red flags,” which are boundary violations, often showing up as these power dynamics. Manipulation of respect in this way is a red flag, poking a boundary to see how compliant you could be when confronted with a claim of authority and need for respect. Know your rights, find your allies, and consider how you can limit your contact with that person.
That’s it for today.
We’re continuing in-person self-defense classes through August and September, probably the whole fall. Hopefully ongoing. There will still be a couple of virtual classes. Masks probably will still be required for a while. We want our students and staff to be safe.
So stay safe, live life.