That’s right, I’m talkin’ ’bout RESPECT.
Respect genuinely has been a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, and since I think it’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog post, I figured I might as well write something about what’s been going on in my life. So, respect it is.
This has been a recurring theme and topic in my personal life and in my work…so we’ll start with the one that involves adorable kids!
This past Saturday, we had our monthly Encuentro Infantil (which, most simply, is an all-day workshop for kids from all over Bogota). I was told a week ago that I’d be working with the youngest group of children (ended up being those under 10 years old), and that as part of the day with them I’d be teaching them about human rights. I spent the whole week worrying and toiling over various resources, trying to figure out how I was going to be able to relate a concept like human rights to such tiny children. Finally I came across an excellent resource from the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights that suggested a variety of activities which are helpful in teaching children about human rights. So those activities got me thinking…and I decided to have a discussion with the kids about respect.
So, we started with the basics…what are rights? what are different examples of rights that children have? Then we got into the respect issues….what does respect mean? what does respect for rights mean? what rights aren’t always respected? what can we do on a daily basis to show respect for others and their rights? what would the world look like if we all respected each other and each other’s rights? Now, let me tell you…these kids were SMART. They knew what they were talking about. So we were able to have a really great conversation about rights and respect, and I knew that later they would be making paintings for the annual calendar which CEPALC makes with paintings by the children we work with, so I encouraged them to paint not only the different violations and cases of disrespect for rights that they see, but also to paint the hope that they see all around them, when it came time for the painting.
Some of the kids had really creative ideas; a few decided to show contrasts between children whose rights were respected and children whose rights were disrespected (depicting various rights, such as the right to education, the right to not work, the right to rest and recreation, etc), one depicted a character with no mouth, demonstrating how some children are stripped of their right to free expression. Working with these kids reminded me of how important having respect for one another and for everyone’s rights truly is, if we are going to create a world of peace, justice, and equality.
And, as I mentioned before, I’ve been thinking a lot about respect in my own life. As I mentioned in my One Month Confessions, I had a recent falling-out with a friend. It was rough, and has taken a lot of processing, and I’ve finally decided that I need to liberate myself of those sorts of relationships. It wasn’t necessarily the relationship itself but more my relationship to the falling-out that got really toxic for me personally, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways that I need to be respected and treated in friendships and relationships, and have received a lot of wonderful reassurances from my other friends, particularly the handful who have really been my support system through it all, and I feel more reassured now that I have a right to demand a certain level of respect from those who I am in relationship with. I commit myself to people in these friendships; why shouldn’t I be able to expect the same from them?
One friend in particular (who I’ve realistically only talked to once through it all, but whose words resonated with me in a way that a lot of other people’s didn’t) said to me, “you can’t be anything more than you, and you are more than enough. Don’t forget that in the strain of distance.” And that was really exactly what I needed to hear. I am who I am; I offer to a relationship what I offer; if someone isn’t willing to accept that to its fullest or respect me for where I’m at, well, I hate to sound harsh, but they might not be worthy of what I’m willing to offer. It has been a hard reality to accept, because this individual was such a close friend of mine and it has hurt a lot losing them from my life, but yet…
I will survive.