Truly Powerful People (373)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Carlos sat in my office. He sat with his mother and kept his eyes glued to the floor. He’d just been released from prison and his mother was doing all the talking. He wiggled the leg that sported an ankle bracelet. His mother told me that he was a good kid and that he only needed to learn a little respect.

Respect is one of those words that are misused as a bargain: I’ll respect you if you respect me. Bargains like these too often become cockfights. Respect in a power-over world requires a police force and a court of law. It becomes very complicated with lines of respect being drawn, reinforced and redrawn. Gangs everywhere kill each other each day in the name of respect. Carlos belonged to that world.

Carlos and I had many conversations after that day. He talked a lot about respect. To gain respect from his peers, he needed to be dead or in prison by age 20. To gain the respect of his rivals he had to vanquish them. To be dead seemed to be a goal and the highest achievement in his culture. I wondered how many generations of lost boys were required to create such a warped aspiration. Lacking purpose, belonging or any real respect from the community, the picture twists.

We talked about other ideas of respect, respect that was not a form of dominance hiding behind a party mask. He could not imagine respecting someone and having no need to control them. For him, respect meant to make them see your way. He understood the paradox: you want them to respect what you see but you refuse to respect what they see.

We talked of how true respect is most often found in stillness and he’d never known any inner stillness. We talked of how stillness – and true respect for others is only possible after you first offer it to yourself. Stillness comes from self-love. He hated me for that because he cried. “Imagine,” I said, “to respect and to own your point of view, your ideas, your gifts, and your thoughts enough not to hide them or force them or have to shoot to prove to anyone that you have worth.”

“I can’t imagine it,” he said.

Disrespect is loud – inside your head and on the outside, too. Disrespect needs to be heard. Power-over has confused disrespect with respect. Respect is not available upon demand. Respect has little to do with territory or possessions. Imagination is among the first casualties when there is so much noise.

One Response

  1. thank you for sharing Carlos and your respectful heart.

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