Hope and optimism were the two words used most to describe fallen NDP leader Jack Layton at his service on Saturday. In the last year of his life, Layton reached a new height politically. He ran his race for Prime Minister with a dignity not often exemplified in today’s political world.
During the days since Jack Layton’s death, many news clips have been shown. During one of these memorable moments, Layton used the words “Respect for all.” These words are a poignant reminder of how the world could be made better.
On Sunday, a friend of mine and I cycled from the Bridge of Dreams out to Coalmont on the KVR Trail. Along the way, as girlfriends often do when they eke out a few hours together from the hustle and bustle of everyday madness, we talked about relationships from the past, the present and even relationships of the future. One word that popped up was respect. I don’t think it was a coincidence.
If there is one thing I have learned in my years on Earth, it is that we all need respect. It doesn’t matter what our age is. Children need their voices to be heard, even if they are tiny. Grandparents need to teach their secrets of life to their grandchildren. Parents need to pass on the wisdom they learned by following the hard route. Friends need to be appreciated. Employees need to be heard.
It is when respect isn’t there that a relationship suffers. When a political party doesn’t respect their constituents enough to tell the truth even after they are caught lying; when a leader turns his or her back on those who got them to where they are now standing; when a parent reneges on promises or when a friend betrays you, that all is lost. It is hard to get respect when one is incapable of giving it. There is this moment of awakening that many of us reach. This person does not deserve my respect. They have betrayed my trust.
Some spouses cheat until there is nothing left to fight for; some parents use words to destroy their children’s innocence; some bosses use pessimism to try and crush their employees spirits; some politician’s use their constituents as stairs to climb and burn behind them and some friend’s use popularity as their scale for worthiness. There are many ways to hurt others. Most people have used some of these methods at one time or another.
We should all do our best to be respectful to those around us. We should not respect those who do not respect us. They are undeserving. Jack Layton didn’t have a secret, he just knew what was important to others and did his very best to live what he spoke. The reverend at Layton’s service said it best, “If the Olympics can make us prouder Canadians, maybe Jack’s life can make us better. Canadians.”