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The word “respect” has different meanings and can be used in different ways.  Some refer to respect as admiration for a person because of their skills, qualities or achievements   Others use the word when describing relationship and how individuals treat each other.  The bottom line, I believe is that respect is about accepting others for who they are and what they believe even if you don’t agree.  Now this doesn’t mean that you have to move into agreement or put up with repeated messages that wear you down and kill your spirit. Having mutual respect always requires healthy boundaries.

I have noticed that since the pandemic arrived there has been a great deal of fear and confusion in the world.   Some of this has morphed into strong passion and even anger.  Those who are convinced that they have the truth and are right (on both sides of the issue) might make annoying and continued efforts to try to convince others to agree with them.  Differences in opinion about pandemic statistics, testing, treatment and mandates have not only been played out in the media, politics and at a global level but also in everyday relationships between family members and friends.   Often this has caused hard feelings and scars that might last for years.

Today I was reading some comments on Facebook and one post really captured my attention.  The writer stated: “Your decisions are on you! Your pushing your beliefs on me is NOT acceptable. From this day forward I am outing anyone who does so. Facebook is supposed to be a social media platform. Sharing stories and friendships. Not a battleground on who is right and who is wrong. No more needs to be said. STOP IT.”

When I am working with clients, I often remind them that we teach others how to treat us.  If we allow people to be rude or abusive, we are basically giving them permission to continue to be rude or abusive.  If we let them continually push their ideas on us, we will likely become resentful and annoyed over time.  On the other hand, if we are clear about boundaries and communicate those boundaries with either words or distancing the other person will learn that their behaviours are not acceptable and cannot continue.  The Facebook writer was very clear about her boundaries and how she will protect them.

Emotions always travel in tandem.   If you dig deep below anger you will usually find fear.  I know that the angrier a person is, the more afraid they are.  People are not only afraid of what might happen to themselves but also to the ones who they care about.  They think that this gives them license to continually try to convince others of the dangers that they themselves are fearing.

It is very important to remember that our friends and family are not the enemy. The enemy is the pandemic!

What I believe the world needs right now is not division but unity and this never comes from arguments and coercion.  It comes from love and compassion.

So, when someone who cares about you is getting heated about an issue, trying to gently change the subject.   Remember that they might be speaking out of irrational fear rather than common sense.

Do not let difference of opinion destroy respect that you built with others over the years.

Let there be peace on earth – and let it begin with me.   And with you.

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