Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Respect Belongs To The Individual

Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word tells of his epiphany when viewing minimalist abstract art. Wolfe became aware that the black and white paintings of Barnett Newman or Mark Rothko were the result of a refining fire in the massive, world-wide, time-eternal libraries of spiritual understanding. The paintings, in a sense, distilled ages of literature. Wolfe was on to something. Professor of Fine Arts Robert Rosenblum wrote of Newman's Stations of the Cross series:

Here the ultimates pertain to death and resurrection, evoked by the primal duality of black and white, and of taut linear forces that, like paths of feeling, quiver and strain against a field of raw canvas, translating the sequence of Christ's martyrdom into irreducible, abstract metaphors, and totally transforming the corporeal Passion into a spiritual one.

This sentence is comprehensible if and only if the reader is steeped in the volumes that reveal that Passion. Even then, the physical realities of what actually happened when our Messiah was arrested and crucified escape us. What is missing is the true concept of respect.

The reasonable and proper understanding of the concept of respect remains the recognition of past personal development built upon the foundation of ultimate truths. It is complete foolishness to look upon the end results - wealth, power, or personality - and believe it worthy of respect any more than we can understand the Passion of the Christ simply by viewing a series of paintings at a museum.

The present Post Modern culture has not only reduced the inscrutable mysteries of meaning into mere painted black and white lines, but we project this attitude in our daily lives and think we have gained insight and understanding. Kind of like Clark Griswold's attitude of seeing the Grand Canyon (okay..okay...let's go!) before pointing the station wagon toward Wally World for a 'real' vacation. The post-modern mind shallowly accepts the final synthesized product as the lesson to be learned without the bother of exploring the volumes of thought the final product represents.

Those that demand true respect the most, deserve it the least. But how do we know this basic truth unless we explore the countless volumes of past commentary? The etymology of respect is English, from Latin respectus, literally, act of looking back, from respicere to look back, regard, from re- + specere to look. In Western thought, respect became a commodity of the free man. The feudal man was told whom he was to respect without choice and without the ability to regard the character of the man. If he did regard the character of the person of means, it amounted to nothing unless the entire system were to be overturned. Power in feudal times belonged to those that seized it or were appointed by divine right.

By the Age of Enlightenment, respect came to be a worthy commodity, granted and retained according to the free will of the individual. The American Declaration of Independence and Constitution declared the respect of the individual according to secular and political terms. Respect became an individual's raw material and this new Constitution provided the protection to develop that raw material in our personal pursuit of happiness. The respect garnered by the individual as he lived his life was valued at all costs by the owner. The gift of pledging personal respect to add to that of another individual was a sober event. Respect is only as dear as the individuals bearing it behave.

This is the freedom that the United States of America was created to protect and to nurture. A new order of men established according to the value of the individual. No worldly connections should be able to earn a man respect; this new order required men to build their own. The foundation stones of respect -- duty, honor, commitment, righteousness -- are the same for all men. All men were equal upon achieving the age of consent. From that point, development of personal respect was the deciding factor in the value of that respect. America was designed to reward choice, not connections. To decide or choose is to live in freedom.

The Post-Modern world has supposedly freed itself from all that baggage stored in the libraries of philosophical thought. They were all "out with the old/ in with the new." To ponder out the good from the bad, the enduring from the au currant, was so yesterday. The Post-Modernists are respect thieves. Anyone with integrity who operates in righteousness is vilified for doing so. Post-Modernists add up their stolen respect like notches on a gun. Every day they take aim at a new target and then proceed to destroy their prey.

Freed of the past form of constitutional respect, post-modernists can destroy the integrity of men of respect while being completely devoid of the characteristics of respect themselves. Stolen respect creates a wealth of power. Stolen respect is sold on the political table and we see such odd bedfellows as the burly guys of the labor union's support for girly-man presidential candidate, John Edwards. Freed from working out your own respect before an omniscient God, a Post-Modernist can answer the question, "Did you have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinski?" with a transcendental musing on the legal meaning of "is".

These leaders spend so much political time destroying any opposition or buying respect back in the home district that they fail to do that which they were elected to do. Keep bridges from falling down, protect the border, defeat those who would do us harm, honor the Constitution -- these things require men of integrity, righteousness, honor, diligence, justice; all the historical aspects of respect. To expect anything of value, of worth and principle from a Post Modernist is complete foolishness. Without examination of the qualities that have stood the test of time, respect devolves back into a feudal age of power, coercion and compulsion. This is our future unless something is done.

Today's leaders are leaders because they were elected 20-30+ years ago. Most have never worked any other job other than politics. The current thought of accepting the end result of power in exchange for the age old qualities of personal respect has allowed the incumbent to rule rather than the Constitution. Our Congress is full of 'appointed' Lords and Ladies rather than men of respect. Why should we be surprised to find corruption, malfeasance, lack of character, and incompetence on both sides of the aisle?

We have allowed our leaders too much respect for the end result of position rather than observing the qualities of their own personal respect. Even worse, in doing so, we have devalued our own respect and become unwashed wastrels begging at the trough of government largess. We continue to vote for our appointed representative to keep the money flowing even though that representative's votes tell sensible constituents to go pound sand. When Chet Edwards (D-TX 17) was questioned about his vote not to fund the troops of the surge in Iraq, (a vote that had many of his constituents furious) he laughed and said, "That's what's great about a democracy." (!) This cocksure presumption comes from having purchased his position through distribution of taxpayer money. Such is the attitude of any elected official when citizens sell their self-respect.

The Post Modernist sees the black and white paintings of The Stations of the Cross and thinks himself a better person on the hierarchy of mankind, rather than having met the truth of his need to develop his own personal respect. When the '60's radicals did away with such arcane rules as respect for authority (i.e. police and military) or office (i.e. Republican Party) they paved the way for a legalistic regard for respect. If you doubt that the United States went through a cultural upheaval that has taken us backwards one need only look at the wall of a local classroom where they will see a poster put up by a teacher to describe how students are to treat her and how she will treat them. While these placards use the word respect, the behavior sought is better termed etiquette or common courtesy. Behavior is not respect. Not even good behavior. Treating someone kindly is not the same as respecting them. However, doing so is an investment in your own commodity of respect. Today, politically correct rules seek to enforce honor to those not willing to cultivate their own respect. All these Post Modernist views of respect are in opposition to the original intent of our Constitution.

To understand respect is to appreciate the value of your own existence and then that of others. A freeman's respect is qualified by his own ability to cultivate that raw material that makes us all equal. The process of developing these abilities are free and available to every man: discipline, work ethic, and integrity. To truly appreciate respect is to recognize and accept the rules and spiritual foundation that created it. The recipient cannot claim the final product as truly his own, unless he dares enter into the great volumes of the past to continue the qualities of men who have set us apart and put us on the road to establish community and civilization. It is to this end that the everlasting qualities of respect are revealed, not by viewing a canvas of end results and assigning upon them respect. Civilization suffers when respect is coerced or stolen from the holder by thugs or those holding political office and authority . The future of our nation depends upon respect remaining the commodity of freeman.

5 comments:

Jim Baxter said...

YES, Nancy,
Your comment, "To truly appreciate respect is to recognize and accept the rules and spiritual foundation that created it," is Right On. It was not initiated by man, but, it can be destroyed or maintained by each of us. Consider;

Carl V. "Sam" Lamb and I served side-by-side as rifle-squad leaders; Fox Company, 'Chesty' Puller's 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. He wrote a book about our experiences in the Korean conflict, 1950-1951. He included my remarks about an incident in which one of our people threatened to punch-out a fellow squad-leader-guideon who had black skin.
The page follows:

+ + +

THE LAST PARADE
by Carl V. "Sam" Lamb Page 296 (ref: 1951)

James Fletcher Baxter

"Sam" and I had a lot in common. We both resisted evil. After I
got out of the hospital, Big Jim Causey told of driving along
in his police cruiser and hitting a black man in his head
with his pistol. He thought it was funny how the guy sprawled
into the street. When he made this comment we were in a card
game. I didn't say anything, but then he said he was going to
kick the ____ out of Joe Goggins and I had heard enough.

I said, "If you're going to try that, you'll have to go through
me to get to him. I'm willing to give my life for a country
that values each individual. If that isn't true, I don't want
to fight for that country - but, it is true, so I'm not going
to let you rob me of the very good reason I may lose my life
tomorrow or next week. If you attack him, you attack me. I
may lose, but I guarantee I will make it very expensive for
you to get to him. Let me know what you decide."

He got up from our card game and said, "I'll have to think
about it."

I said, "Let me know. I'll be here."

He came back a little later and said, "You're right. I was
wrong." I thanked him for his manliness.

Joe Goggins came to me later and thanked me. He had wet eyes.

+ + +

5/10/07 JFB
Shortly after the above event, Jim Causey was called home for family
member medical problems. On his way back to the States, he passed
through a Naval medical facility. While there, he ran into my brother,
Sgt. Howard "Barney" Baxter, 5th Marines, who had just been sent
stateside for his Chosen Reservoir frost-bitten feet.

Causey told my brother what had happened and said "how much it
had changed his life." He said Joe and I had forgiven him and he
would "never go back to the old collective point of view." He was
really joyful because he was honestly able to forgive himself! He
became a more manly man - a good Marine - with honor.

I'm pleased the Rutgers women accepted Imus' apology. They, and
others, need to forgive. We all need to grow. Good examples are
always in short supply. God bless my Country and its Individuals.

vincit veritas
Jim Baxter
Sgt. USMC
WWII and Korean War
5th Grade Teacher - 30 wonderful years! '57- '87
semper fidelis

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

INDIVIDUAL VALUE - Gift of Y'shua JESUS
by James Fletcher Baxter

The Old World method of measuring human value was,
and still is, by the group. Whether tribe, clan,
city-state, color, ethnic, or gender, the Old
World, ancient and modern, measures by the plural
unit. Individuals had and have no value of them-
selves but only as they were and are part of a
collective.

When Y'shua Jesus died on the cross, the veil of
the Temple at the Holy of Holies parted from the
top down. The individual believer in the congrega-
tion had, for the first time, a face-to-face, one-
on-one relation with his Creator. The Creator,
Himself, had validated each individual for the
first time.Thus, the Individual became the corner-
stone for later human value measuring systems:
socio-political, philosophical, religious, educa-
tional, economic, etc., henceforth and forever.
Western Civilization, America, English Law, civil
Rights, the 'democratic' process, etc., all sprang
from that single event. (Greco-Roman 'democracies'
were 95% slave throughout their entire histories.)
Biblical principles are still today the foundation
under Western Civilization and the American way of
life.

Many social systems attempt to borrow ideas of
"democracy" without the basic premise in The Indi-
vidual. Such a system is only superficially and
temporarily 'democratic.' The cornerstone of the
democratic process is The Individual and the
cornerstone of the value of The Individual is
Y'shua Jesus! It is not possible to have one with-
out the other. There is only One Source - there is
no other.

It is additionally interesting to note that all
value measuring systems are based on the single
definitive unit of the system. Ex: Number, Time,
Distance, Weight, Heat, Money, Angle, Volume, etc.

Only humanism makes the abusive error of measuring
human value by the plural unit and attempts to
build social structures, relations, and institu-
tions thereon. Such man-made systems can only be
abusive and oppressive because in reality there
are only individual persons. Groups or collectives
are merely convenient verbalizations about indi-
viduals. They are not reality.

I have yet to see a 'group.' All I have ever seen
are individuals.Have you ever seen a group - or is
it a verbal convenience? Reality is only in the
individual person. And, such a validation never
derived from a human source without the initiative
of the Creator. (The French Rationalists of the
18th Century favored the fruit - but rejected the
branch, tree, and root.)

Today, wherever Y'shua Jesus is rejected, the
group or collective is still the basic way of
measuring human value - or human non-value.

We thank the Lord God for revealing His validation
of each individual person. We thank Him for creat-
ing each person uniquely, in His image, and call-
ing each one to a courageous ascension by Y'shua
Jesus, who said, "I AM the Way..."

Praise the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and
His Son of Man, Y'shua Jesus.

Reference: Exodus 25:30,40 Hebrews 9 Matthew 27:51
Mark 15:38 Luke 23:45 KJV

vincit veritas
Jim Baxter



Q: ? "How many more Columbines and VA Techs
before we 'get it?' " jfb

Jim Baxter said...

The Mathematics of Life

In ancient Israel, the pre-born human being was
considered to be a person and, at birth, one-year
old. The wisdom of Israel held that the value of
the single life defined the value of the Twelve
Tribes of Israel.

History records that when the individual person
is of expedient non-value, the value of the plural
unit, the whole society, becomes regressive and
expendable.

Today, there are those who say, "Abortion is
such a messy negative subject." The American
new age holocaust is what it is. Regardless of a
sophisticated rationale it is a form of cannibalism
- devouring one's own kind - and has no place in
a free humane society based on individual worth.

If the individual is worth zero what will our Nation
be worth? Isn't the whole the sum value of the
parts - the individuals who make it up?

Is there any other kind of human? After all, isn't
every "group" merely a verbal convenience about
individuals?

Ask any ten-year old, "If one equals zero what
does twelve equal?"

If each individual is worth zero what will society
be worth? The consequences accrue to each and
every individual in our Country.

Dear Reader: Don't you qualify as an individual?
Are YOU prepared to be weighed in the balances
of your own choosing? The perverse cause
produces the perverse effect. Obviously and
sadly it is happening.

Dear Trendy-One: Are there any questions about
our Nation? YOUR future? How about arithmetic?
The next step down? Assisted suicide. Murder +

"The fool foldeth his hands together and eateth
his own flesh." Ecclesiastes 4:5

Christopher said...

So, respect is something you earn by your conduct; it is not something you demand or that a politician demands on your behalf.

But of course people with their own self-respect aren't dependent upon politicians, and that's not good.

Nancy Coppock said...

Respect is a raw material all men possess to be developed according to the will and ability of the individual. Development of our respect is through freedom of choice. An individual can not be forced to develop respect anymore than a soul can be forced to love the Lord your G-d with all your heart and believe that above Him there is no other.

I believe we have gone a bit off track by thinking respect is earned. That takes a bit away from the concept that we must develop our own respect by adherence to the lasting traditions and values.

Upon development of a mature respect, when we choose to share our respect, as in the story Mr. Baxter tells in his comment, we plant seeds to be developed in the other individual's respect.

In another way, when we pledge our respect to say a political candidate, that means the value of our respect is added to the recipient's. The recipient didn't "earn" our respect because true respect is not for sale. It is one man of honor and integrity recognizing another. It is an acknowledgement of the development of mature respect.

I may be straining at a gnat, or even worse, being a bit Rand-ian but the concept of earned respect marks a certain ability to manipulate others into doing what you want them to do. I think we need to return to the freedom of recognizing the qualities of respect; integrity, truthfulness, honesty, reliability, honor...the list goes on in others and reacting accordingly, our culture will change for the better.

A Jacksonian said...

From what I have seen respect is neither 'earned' nor 'demanded' it is granted by each person to others that demonstrate, in their activities, that they are to be resprected as they respect others. Anyone who demands respect cannot do so, and all the good works in life may earn one little or no respect at all... if one acts respectfully towards oneself and others that is then apparent in the actions taken by that self.

To be respected one must be capable of self-respect and then able to extend that self-respect to others. It is a grant that shows the quality of the character of the individual. That was MLK's dream - to judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. It was a challenge across the racial divide which asks: in the projection of hatred, why are you so noble in that judgement? And to the other: if you accept such hatred as fact, what does that say about yourself?

An individual cannot help but to be biased - bias is showing preference and discrimination amongst things. To say the state of food can be done in an unbiased way, is to put forth that rotten food is just the same as wholesome food. Once the quality of food comes into question then it is up to individuals to determine what they tolerate and enjoy in food. That is discrimination based on bias. In a republic of free people, however, we act not just as individuals, but as a community that comes together to form a Nation. To Jefferson this is a paramount right even before all others:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,"

The truths are self-evident, no matter the source of them and the rights that follow just the same. To secure these rights people come together to form government. While each is endowed with their rights it is only by creating society and social context that then makes government possible. To do *that* a society can be biased and discriminate about who is or is not part of it. The rights are universal as are the rights to come together into separate groups and societies and then form just government.

The US Constitution uses a structure to set forth what will be done by government. It is a simple and straightforward structure:

1) Responsiblities to each part of government is identified,

2) Just means to carry out such responsibilities is put forth,

3) Rights are granted to government to carry out that responsibility by those just means.

And if your rights do not cover your responsibilities you are *still* responsible to carry them out. It is a structure with clarity that sees all rights belonging to the People save those few granted to government. Amendments IX and X reinforce the early verbiage in the main document so as to underline that the People are the source of rights for government. That said, in these latter days, we have had many ask where is the "bill of responsibilities"? The things you are to do for those around you...

It is, of course, contained within the exact same document as the structure of it is extended to the thing as a whole. We miss that completely in modern times as we think the Constitution ONLY talks about government. It does not. Reading the document from start to finish clearly states what each individual in society must adhere to... it lays out the responsibilities and who must do them:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

We the People take on these following responsibilities so as to ensure that this compact amongst all the People, called the Constitution, will be carried out. This is not what we are telling government to do, this is our statement about ourselves, as a Nation and individuals, what we will do in our lives to ensure we have a Nation of equals amongst us. We set forth federal government as one form of government to help achieve these goals. We set forth just means for this government to achieve these goals in its functions. And we grant few rights to such government to do those things the People deem necessary for the common society.

In all cases, even with those things granted to governement, We the People take responsibility for what is done in Our name to meet these goals.

To get 'respect' one must first look to meet these goals for the common society. These are the things we set out for ourselves, as individuals, to achieve and strive towards, even though we are frail mortals. We cannot reach perfection, but we can achieve 'a more perfect Union' with our fellow citizens and People and keep those high goals because they are worth having. MLK reminded us of that, and asked us if we were actually living UP to what we had stated we would do. To get respect one must work to achieve these goals, even in failure, and be judged on your ability to actually do that by your peers.

One does not 'earn' or 'deserve' or 'demand' respect: it is granted by those who use the bias given by society in that founding document to discriminate between activities. One can gain respect by respecting those outlooks and working to be in more perfect Union with those around them.

But that is just one man's view in this republic. Others may differ.