Respect beautifies our lives, our community and our world

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, November 14, 2013

As I’m writing this week’s column, it’s Remembrance Day in Canada (Veterans Day in the United States), a day synonymous with respect, the topic of last week’s column.

In that column, the fifth in our series on personal religious identifiers, Stoney Nakoda First Nation Elder Tina Fox, of Morley, cited respect as the dominant traditional value within her community.

Tina responded to that column as follows:

Îsnîyes (‘thank you’), Warren, for including the Stoney Nakoda teachings in your column. It is good to learn from each other about our beliefs and teachings which are really not too different from each other. The late Elder Hanson Bearspaw used to say that Creator made different kinds of people to live in the world He created and gave each of them ways to honour him and to relate with him. It is not up to us to judge whose religion or belief is right or wrong.”

That column drew many positive responses from our other readers, too, such as writer/photographer Jack Blair, who celebrates respect as a key factor in his and his wife’s move to Cochrane from Calgary two years ago.

“Tina’s statements about respect ring true with me,” Jack wrote. “My parents also raised me to respect others, their beliefs, values, personal space, and their belongings. In my married life my wife, Leslie, has emulated those same values and behaviour, and therefore has, I think, helped me grow even more in the same way.”

Jack cited the many pressures in today’s world to move us off that path, isolating pressures such as urbanization and personal affluence.

“I think for many this makes for a busyness in one’s life that restricts time for the broader communities we live in. Living in Cochrane has allowed me to hearken back to the teachings of my parents on respect. Why? Because I have a chance to see it practised regularly.

“In particular, I want to comment on the respect the youth show their elders. I think most of us show respect for elders in our families, but to show respect for those outside of our families or outside our own culture is, to me, a clear indication of well-taught and well-learned values. I do notice a difference between Cochrane and Calgary with such demonstrations of respect.”

This is where Tina’s cultural perspective on respect “makes me feel good,” Jack said. “She reminds me that I must maintain my values of respect outside of my culture. I don’t think boundaries of respect should be seen either between cultures or religions. I guess humanity has some work to do on such matters in our world today. We need more outspoken and dedicated teachers like Tina.”

I’ll wrap up this week’s column with a gracious email I received the other day from Sandy Corenblum, of Calgary, an elder of her own Jewish community.

Sandy goes too far, however, by giving me singularly the credit that rightly belongs to all our coffee companions. After all, it’s your wisdom, dear readers, that has brought life and hope to these weekly visits, and it is in that spirit I share Sandy’s kind words with you now.

“Your respect for all religions and all peoples is such a blessing in a world gone wild with disrespect and hatred,” she said. “Your light shines brightly and I thank you for never giving up and always trying to bring us all together. This is God’s dream; you are always dreaming it, living it and sharing it.”

Sandy’s words resonate with a photo I took recently. Sunlight was refracting through a glass of water and projecting a beautiful pattern onto a sheet of paper. We all have the privilege of being like that glass of water, as heavenly Light and Love radiate through us and leave their beautiful mark on our community and on our whole world.

Thanks, Sandy, Jack, Tina and the rest of you, for being respect-filled glasses of water radiating God’s Light and Love to me.


© 2013 Warren Harbeck

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