Respect. That pointless drivel they pound into your head every single day.
At the start of a new year, every year, there is a school-welcoming assembly. It’s an assembly to teach the new ninth graders the expectations and rules of the school and to give the older grades a “refresher”. That part’s all well and fine by me, but there was always one part that always irked me: that part where they make you pledge respect to every goddamned thing under the school roof. Respect your peers. Respect the school. Respect your teachers. Respect their belongings. Respect the grass. And on it goes. Like a mantra that’s been chanted thousands of times, this seemingly harmless phrase slowly began to take on the shape of a law. So much so, that the very act of ‘disrespect’ became an inconceivable offense. And with it, people began to forget what respect actually means.
Some teachers and administrative staff feel that respect denotes obedience. If the student does not listen, or goes against their wishes, they are now being ‘disrespectful’. Such disrespect is of course, not tolerated, and the school environment must remain respectful at all times. The board seems to feel that respect, no matter how it is obtained, will breed good behaviour – by making everyone respect each other, they will behave. This, of course, is terribly wrong. Forcing the students to paradoxically mindlessly respect school and its inhabitants will not make them behave better. Rather, it has the opposite effect and the word respect becomes just another way to manipulate and alienate the students of the school.
Perhaps a better way to incite good behavior is to show why something is actually worth giving respect to. After all respect is not something everybody is entitled to. It is something that people have to earn. If you, as a person, show un-respectable behaviour or feel that you can be respected simply because of your position, well, at least now you know why people chuckle behind your back.