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2014 May (17)I grew up in a small town. Mrs. Wick was the cranky old lady that lived next door. Mr. Valdez lived down the street and was a law enforcement officer.

It would have been easy to make fun of Mrs. Wick, but my mother would not allow us to do that, and in fact, we were taught to offer to help her whenever she needed it.

It would have been easy to disrespect Mr. Valdez in our small, almost-all-white town because he was Hispanic, but I would have never thought to do that, and his son was one of my best friends in elementary school.

Basic respect for the people in our town was how I was raised. It wasn’t being ‘politically correct,’ because it was part of being a decent person. Sure there were times when people failed to be decent, but the rodeo was only in town once a year and city people who pretend to be cowboys are idiots.

Today, our neighborhood is much larger. A Facebook post reaches around the world. Our community is no longer bound by city limits, county or state lines, nor national boundaries. What we say and do is part of a recorded history that will exist for hundreds, or possibly thousands of years.

It is not easy to be respectful of other people, but it is required. There should never be a question of whether or not to fly a confederate flag. It is always wrong to wave a symbol of traitors and racists in the face of our brothers and sisters around the world.

It is never appropriate to malign a group of honorable people who often risk their lives to have a better life in the United States by characterizing them as drug dealers and rapists. We have a responsibility to speak and act with respect to others. It is not a matter of being ‘political correct,’ it is a matter of personal honor and decency. That value has been the foundation of the strength of our country. It is why, when America faces a real threat, we drop everything and respond as one.

It is why Hitler failed, and Putin hates us. The test of a true American is the ability to respect others who are different in race, gender, religion, who they love, and where they are from.