Recently, I entered into a discussion on Facebook (okay, I commented on a meme and started a conversation) about being a gentleman.   As gentlemanly behavior is essentially manners and respect, I focused on those aspects of the topic and remarked that most who display such aspects to their character were likely raised to do so; respect (and its opposite) are learned behaviors and so easy to instill in children simply by displaying them ourselves. Kids learn from what they observe, after all, not what they’re told.

Inevitably, in a way much like I would likely have done had this discussion happened just a few years previous, someone took exception to the concept that respect is taught. Manners and consideration, he argued, are taught, while respect is earned.   I understand this point of view, I truly do, but to think this way, one must logically disrespect (at least unconsciously) those whom one perceives as not having earned respect, and this is where we must part ways.

This morning, as with most mornings, I blindly spun and flipped my copy of the Tao Te Ching before letting it open to a random page. This page and the verse it contains, as always, became the focus for my morning meditation. Also as always, I immediately saw the relevance to a recent event or, as in this case, conversation. The 49th verse of the Tao teaches us to live without judgment; to treat everyone the same:


The Master has no fixed mind;

he is aware of the needs of others.

Those who are good he treats with goodness.

Those who are bad he also treats with goodness

because the nature of his being is good.

He is kind to the kind.

He is also kind to the unkind

because the nature of his being is kindness.

He is faithful to the faithful.

he is also faithful to the unfaithful.

The Master lives in harmony with all below heaven.

He sees everything as his own self;

he loves everyone as his own child.


All people are drawn to him.

He behaves like a small child.**


Judgment isn’t our job. Kindness is. Affecting the world in a positive way is. Basic human respect isn’t something that’s earned, its deserved at the cellular level.   Teaching our youth to respect and honor not only our similarities, but to embrace and love our differences as well is our duty.  If we don’t teach judgment, and we move away from judgment in our own minds; as we stop judging ourselves so harshly, our need to judge others will diminish as well. Words like “stupid”, “ugly”, and “lazy” will fade from our conversations.

The word “Namaste” is very popular today.   Many people use it, I expect, without really knowing its meaning. It is, of course, a Sanskrit word which, when used as a greeting (the most common usage today) translates approximately as “I honor the place in you where we are all one”. See yourself in everyone you encounter, and cruelty, harshness, and judgment will not, CANNOT endure.  Only respect will remain.



**Thanks and acknowledgment of course to Dr. Wayne Dyer.

This translation is taken from his book

“Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life”