What do women want? From what is being presented in images from around the world, we want respect, and rightly so. Indeed, everyone wants respect, and we are all called to give it. But respect is a funny word. It came into the English language in about the 14th century, from the Latin language, and in its roots, it means ‘to look again’. In English, it firstly means the admiration we give to someone has done something extraordinary – the people who impress us so much we do a double take on them.
But the second meaning is probably the most important: due regard for feelings, wishes, or the rights of others. In other words, the decent treatment we all should get, and give, simply because we are human beings. But we see disrespect so often, and we ourselves can sometimes give disrespect, or put up with it when it is served out to us. Change isn’t going to come about just because we demand respect. In fact, we are more likely to be ridiculed by the ones dishing out the original disrespect.
So what can we do? Step back and look again. Truly take time to consider who we are: people made in God’s image and likeness, beloved of God. That is the deepest and surest grounds for our self-respect. Once we are deeply grounded in that knowledge, the disrespect we might get from others is less likely to disturb us. And, strange to say, we also are more capable of giving respect, even to those whose behaviour is reprehensible. This is what being created in God’s image is truly about. This is what being Christian is about. During this coming Holy Week, we will ponder on Jesus, despised, rejected, tortured and then murdered, respecting those who did all this to him. He could do so because he was grounded in God’s love. Let us live in that love, and give the respect our world so needs.
Loving God, you deeply love and respect me. Let me look again, and again, at the love you have for me. May it be the ground of my self-respect and power for my respect for others. I ask this in Jesus’ name confident that you will hear me.
Sr Kym Harris osb