Yesterday was the last day of school. One of the last tasks I was assigned was to help a couple of our employees put up new flags outside of our school. The old ones were pretty beat up and needed to be replaced. One of my teammates was telling me that he got detained for three hours one time when he was on a military base and failed to stop when the flag was being raised. I did not know there was such a rule, but I love the fact that our military sets an example for showing proper respect for our flag.
Right after he told us this story, we were in the process of changing out the flags (without letting them touch the ground). We noticed a person standing out by the highway at attention…with his hand over his heart as we raised the flags. It was a beautiful confirmation of what my friend had just shared with us. I would be willing to bet he was a veteran.
We live in a time where respect has been forgotten by some. Many don’t honor our flag and some have outright contempt for it. For those that don’t love our country, I wonder why they choose to live here. It can’t be for any honorable reason. I know there are many enemies we have who would like nothing less than to see us lose our freedom and succumb to their ideologies.
One thing I know about respect: it has to be earned. Recently I watched The Last Dance documentary on Michael Jordan. I was touched by his raw behind the scenes story and how he continually had to gain the respect of those who opposed him. Obviously it is somewhat different in sports with all the trash talking that goes on between competitors, but is it really all that different?
Think about the trash talking that goes on in politics. I hate election year because of all the mud that is slung between the candidates on both sides. It seems to be a battle of words and it does not matter if there is any truth to the accusation or not. I realize that politics and religion are two topics which draw the most heated debates, so I try not to grandstand on those subjects because of the potential dog-piling that often ensues online. It does not mean I don’t have strong opinions about both, because I do. I just choose my battles wisely.
Why do people take the liberty to bash other people’s opinions just because they are different from theirs? I don’t mind healthy debates, but I detest bashing and bullying. If you think about it, it is reverting to a very childish behavior.
One thing I picked up from Michael Jordan that I really appreciated about his mindset was that he used the negativity of others to fuel his desire to win. And win he did. He had numerous failures and setbacks along the way, but look at what he accomplished! Wow. He was not perfect by any means. None of us are.
My advice is pretty simple: allow people to have their own opinions. If you choose to debate a point, do so with respect. If not, you may be fueling a fire that could consume you. I have the image of Michael Jordan walking off the court after one of those memorable comeback moments with the song in the background echoing: “How you like me now?” Be willing to earn the respect you desire and understand that it comes at a cost. Respect and freedom have this in common: neither one is free.