Oh Aretha, when you sang:
(oo) What you want
(oo) Baby, I got
(oo) What you need
(oo) Do you know I got it?
(oo) All I'm askin'
(oo) Is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)
Hey baby (just a little bit) when you get home
(just a little bit) mister (just a little bit)
Did you know you could never demand it? You had to earn it, girl!
And you have to give it too. Just about all the time.
We were talking about this the other day, my eldest brother and I. Respect. He has had a difficult and painful divorce from his ex-wife and is now involved with a new partner. He had to break uncomfortable news (for her) to his ex-wife and his adult children who are scattered all over Europe while he lives in the Middle East. He chose to plane hop to each and every one to tell them this news face-to-face rather than on the phone or e-mail. His ex-wife tolerated him for eight minutes (he clocked it) in her house before showing him both her fury and the door. He knew it would be difficult and awkward but said any other way would be cowardly, he owed her respect. She is the mother of his children. My respect for my brother is even more immeasurable.
A dear friend was in court some years back. He was going through an extremely antagonistic divorce and his wife's lawyer kept pushing her claim on their wealth higher and higher. He was getting angrier and angrier until it suddenly hit him that the scene that was unfolding was not about the money as much as about the death of the dream they had together. He needed to respect that dream even though she detested it (and him). He said to his shocked lawyer, "Whatever she is demanding now, add $50,000 to it". After protesting, his lawyer did so and the silence in the courtroom seemed to last for five minutes before everyone signed off and left. And a few years down the road when she developed cancer, he was the first person she called.
I was reminded tonight over dinner that my irritation with a very dear friend of forty years was just that - irritation at her carelessness, at her inattention, at her lack of get up and go. It had nothing to do with her, but everything to do with my intolerance and impatience. She deserved love from me. And I gave it to her and meant it. I stopped riding her on her deficiencies and paid attention to the pain in her life which was then freely shared with me once my judgemental barriers were removed.
And as I write this I reflect on how the world would be if more respect were shown, like Obama respecting Hillary and vice-versa, and Bush respecting everybody - how good would that be?
Much of our trouble would surely be over.