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“You ain’t going to get my respect until you respect me.”

We can't demand respect

Image by Gigi Ibrahim

You couldn’t count the number of times I’ve heard those words uttered. As a youth leader, the recent generations of students have become centered around the idea of respect.

If you watch them closely, you can see how badly they want respect. Every action they take is centered around gaining respect.

From the clothes they wear to the friends they have to the hobbies they participate in, everything is focused on respect.

Yet they rarely know how to gain respect. The first line of this post is an example of how many young people view respect. It’s the me first and then you attitude.

And it’s completely wrong.

The Wrong Way To Gain Respect

There’s a mindset that you only reciprocate respect after it’s been given to you. People have to show you respect and then you return respect.

Do you remember making shadow puppets growing up? Shadow puppets were created when you contorted your fingers and hands into specific shapes. You’d do all of this in front of a light. If you had your hands in the right positions, you could fascinate your friends with the creatures you could make.

Shadow Puppet Master

Image By Tom Check

Shadow puppets were always interesting to me. They’d allow you to create an image without actually having the object. Sometimes you’d make a dog or a bat or a bird. The options seemed limitless.

It was an illusion of the light and darkness. What was there wasn’t and what wasn’t really there was. What you saw was determined by what you were looking at.