When we show respect to someone, we are not endorsing his or her behavior or beliefs. We can be civil (even to those we disagree with) because every person has value as a fellow human being and worthy of dignity.

Thomas Jefferson said, “I will treat you as a gentleman, not because you are one, but because I am one.” This idea of treating people as you want to be treated (often called the Golden Rule) is found in most major religions and provides a good guideline for how to show respect.

Be careful not to misinterpret the Golden Rule as treating others the way that they treat you. Don’t use someone else’s poor behavior as a guide for your own. Have the integrity to show respect to someone regardless of how they treat you. Sometimes we need to take the “high road.” That road may not provide the satisfaction of giving someone what you think they may deserve, but it will strengthen our character.

Improving respect and civility in our community isn’t someone else’s job. It starts with you.

Show Some Respect is powered by The Ray Center at Drake University, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, and the Greater Des Moines Partnership.