On Respect

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Aretha spells it: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Merriam-Webster defines it:

  • a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation
  • remarks having respect to an earlier plan
  • an act of giving particular attention
  • the quality or state of being

A thesaurus provides substitute words: appreciates, considerate, dignity, honor, recognize, regard, courtesy, and more

The Cincinnati Enquirer Editorial Board writes it.

Respect, it would seem, is in incredibly short supply in America these days. Inappropriate actions, offensive and rude language and a general lack of manners are, unfortunately, becoming the norm. And increasingly, there seems to be little patience or respect for the diverse ideas or experiences of others.

America has become a nation of absolutists in love with their own perspectives and intolerant of differing ones. But what has always made this country great is its diversity of people and their opinions, ideas and culture. …

Respect for each other’s differing opinions and backgrounds opens the door for healthy dialogue as opposed to the often angry, back-and-forth that masquerades as conversation on social media.”

United States Air Force Lt. General John Silveria says it.

On Humanity


“Burger” on trumpet with his band, TBC, at a second line on St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans

The majority of the world is good – I’ve written those words on past posts here because I believe it. Even when the news constantly reminds us about all the evil, I continue to believe the majority of the world is good.

Humanity is a term that refers to all of us. All … not all with a but or except … simply all. Regardless of skin color, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, location or any other qualifier or disqualifier, humanity includes the characteristics human beings have in common.

The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. (Brian Tracy, author)


Men in support of the Lady Buckjumpers second line in Central City, New Orleans

Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love. (Stevie Wonder, musician)


Sammy Eubanks comforts his wife Corrie after he was notified that his band did not win the blues competition in Memphis, TN

The requirements for our evolution have changed. Survival is no longer sufficient. Our evolution now requires us to develop spiritually – to become emotionally aware and make responsible choices. It requires us to align ourselves with the values of the soul – harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for life. (Gary Zukav, author)


Members of The Stooges brass band rehearse prior to a second line in Central City, New Orleans

Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people. (Dennis Prager, journalist)


Three generations of Mardi Gras Indian queens on the most important of all nights — St. Joesph’s Night — in Central City, New Orleans

Humility, that low, sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot. (Thomas Moore, poet)

A discussing of who to trust on the street, which is basically nobody. La salle Street, Central City, New Orleans

Mr. Otis gives me a little advice about life on the street in Central City, New Orleans

Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. (Oprah Winfrey, entertainer)


Coming out in Treme – the neighborhood, not the HBO series

A warm smile is the universal language of kindness. (William Arthur Ward, writer)

One Giant Smile.

Sometimes we celebrate. The world’s biggest smile at Uncle Lionel’s Jazz Funeral in Treme, New Orleans

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. (Ann Landers, journalist)


Two second line walkers greet each other in Central, New Orleans

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. (Joyce Meyer, author)


Taking pictures requires a little patience at Mardi Gras, Uptown, New Orleans

I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being. (Jackie Robinson, athlete)

Respect is what we owe; love, what we give. (Philip James Bailey, poet)


Mardi Gras Indians greet the elders during Downtown Super Sunday, 7th Ward, New Orleans


Ray Laskowitz is a photographer in New Orleans. I can’t recall how we found each other, but I find his photos capture many aspects of humanity. Fittingly, he describes his blog as “about pictures and their backstories.” My experience told me he is the perfect artist for this collaborative endeavor. I gathered the text, then he supplied the images.

I encourage everyone to visit Ray’s blog for his stories and his website to see his photos, where images are available for purchase. I’ve invite Ray to respond to comments when he can, so feel free to ask him questions.

All photos are copyrighted by Ray Laskowitz @ Laskowitz Pictures

On Clarifying the Line

I admittedly get caught up in the rhetoric coming from the mouths in Congress, so I keep reminding myself that some it is simply the political gamesmanship. I recall Senator Orin Hatch telling the story of the late Senator Ted Kennedy (and his close friend) coming to him after a rousing Senate floor speech and asking, “How did I do?”

Although the Tea Party folks, Jimmy Hoffa (on Labor Day), and other partisans spew their side through red-meat diatribes, I continue to maintain that elected officials should be above the fray. There is a fine line between playing politics and being obnoxious and unnecessary or even worse – disrespectful. It wasn’t long after President Obama took office that Republican Senator Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated (and repeated several times since) that he would do everything he could to limit President Obama to one-term. No, not gamesmanship. No, not disrespectful – but yes, obnoxious and unnecessary.

For examples of disrespectful we can look to elected officials as Rep Joe Walsh (R-IL) for calling President Obama an idiot; or to Rep Joe Wilson (R-SC) for his “you lie” outburst during the State of the Union; or to Rep Paul Broun (R-GA) calling President Obama a socialist. Yes, I called out Rep Maxine Waters (D-CA) for her go-to-hell comment, and I am sure anyone can find disrespectful comments made about President Bush by an elected Democrat.

Meanwhile, I did not have any problem with Vice President Biden’s comment at an organized labor event on Labor Day in Cincinnati when he said, “You (union members) are the only folks keeping the barbarians at the gate.”

Nor did I have issue with this response by local Rep Steve Chabot (R-OH), “The Vice President was here in Cincinnati Monday to address the AFL-CIO at their annual Labor Day Picnic. His contribution to civility was referring to Republicans as barbarians at the gate. Now I’m not sure if the Vice President was comparing us poor conservatives to Huns, Mongols, Visigoths, Vandals, or which specific barbarians, but I’m quite sure he didn’t mean it as a compliment.”

I continue to believe that elected leaders should be above the fray, thus disrespectful comments have no place at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue. While disagreements and gaming are part of their culture and process, the infusion of reality-show-in-your-face mentality is not an example of patriotism, but simply one example of our lost national sensibility and vanishing sense of humanity. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Avenue will continue to do their thing while also wondering why people have so little confidence in the economy.

On Losing Something Simple

Adults of the time criticized the young generation who listened and danced to the music of the roaring 20s; but didn’t the same thing happen in the big band era? And again with the Elvis followers and that the early years of rock n’ roll? And once again in the classic rock era of the late 60s and 70s? And hasn’t hip-hop’s thumping sounds continued the tradition? Seems like all us have been damned to hell and back for our music.

Life has many constants -one being how a generation looks at the next generation with a question mark. Then again, making connections and seeing patterns is one of the things we see over time. So what the heck is this post about?

Well …. Presidents get it with the position, Aretha spells it, and Rodney never gets it. Although respect is something that transcends generations, each generation looks upon it a bit differently. I claim that is because each generation is shaped by different circumstances.

Think about the latest events involving Congressman Joe Wilson and entertainer Kanye West – or the continual disrespect talkshow pundits give to those who disagree with them. – or the way some use emails and blogs to instantly launch insulting bombs instead of stewing and calculating – or the trash talking that athletes display on the field – or this question: Are reality show behaviors imitating society or is society imitating reality shows? Well, one thing for sure, the list can go on.

I think about these Kathleen Parker words from a recent column

Across the spectrum of society, people are behaving badly. Even those at the very top of their games, who enjoy wealth and status, no longer can be relied upon to carry the standard of exemplary behavior.

All in all, I find it sad that so many are selecting the low ride over the high road, thus overshadowing the goodness that humans have. Maybe Gene Roddenberry had something in mind with Vulcans in Star Trek.