Respect is the word

Appeared in Free magazine, Nation newspaper on April 20
We live in a day and age where respect for others, their beliefs and even for one’s self is no more. Perhaps this is one of the major reasons for the decline of our society. 
Do you have an atheist friend or friend who believes in another religion other than yours? Have you ever tried to convince her or him otherwise? What about a friend with a different sexual orientation? What have you felt and have you made any rude remarks? While personally we may feel differently and have opposing views the key for co-existence is respect. We need to respect what they believe in as they respect ours. Humans can never agree on everything but we must heed what the other has got to say and find common ground.
Today people can be shockingly rude. It is not uncommon to hear racist and derogatory remarks in public aimed directly at people who are within earshot. And usually in most cases they are totally uncalled for. People are not tolerant of other religions or another’s traditions which can be seen in a recent spate of incidents in our country and around the world which is upsetting. And if we thought the caste system is no more, then we are mistaken as still many who consider they belong to communities of the upper class do not enter in to marriage with those from lower castes. Superstitions and misconceptions about gypsies exist even today.
Pic by Sakuna Gamage
Is it really difficult to give up a seat in a bus to a member of clergy of another religion other than yours and give them the due respect? Or hand a coin to a beggar who is clearly from another religion? Or to have some reverence at a temple, a church, a kovil or a mosque?  Shockingly, people do not even respect the dead anymore; with news of grave robbing  being commonplace now in society.
Sadly, even respect for the institution of marriage is somewhat lost. Wives and Husbands do not respect each other enough to be faithful to their bond. Children do not respect their parents or teachers anymore. People do not even respect themselves and stoop low for various reasons by accepting or giving bribes, stealing and lying.
The world doesn’t have to be a dreary place as I have made it sound like. All one needs to do is have some respect. 
‘Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners’
I can’t agree more with this quote. Respect one another, as we the youth need to ensure wars will not be fought in this beautiful country and racism will not have a place in our society. Be faithful to your partner, and protect the institution called marriage, it is not a whim or fancy you can discard as you please. Respect our parents and teachers as they are our guides in life, they have shaped us in to who we have become today. We owe everything we know to them. Do not steal from others, respect the fact they have worked hard to earn everything they own.
Despite whatever we think there is absolutely no difference between us. So mostly respect one another as humans because beyond all the races, religions, castes, creeds, skin colors and various other differences, we are all the same.

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