The Narrow Road | July 2014

Bob_Anton_Narrow_RoadRespect…

…is a big issue in our society.  It is perhaps a bigger issue in the motorcycling community.  Several years ago while working the gate at a motorcycle event, I was approached by several bikers sporting serious attitude.  Although I treated them with respect, they apparently felt entitled to more.  Without going into details, suffice to say I was treated in a disrespectful way.  For the sake of peace, I chose to allow these men their moment of power and ignore their behavior.  The look of satisfaction on their faces was evidence enough that they considered themselves men worthy of great respect.  The sad reality is that they had my respect right up until they copped an attitude.  That’s when they forfeited my respect.

 

Just a few years ago, Saddam Hussein ruled a country of over 20 million people.  The Iraqi media represented Saddam as a well-respected and beloved leader, but we now know that he was a dangerous tyrant, who oppressed his people and intimidated them into submission.  Upon his removal, the people of Iraq took to the streets, not to lament the overthrow of a beloved leader, but to celebrate the downfall of a despised dictator.  Just a few years later Libyan dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was ousted from power after ruling his nation for over 40 years.  He was captured by militiamen, while hiding in a drainage pipe.  He was summarily executed on the spot.  It should be apparent to anyone that strong-arm tactics failed to earn either of these men the respect that they thought they had won from their people.

 

Consider by contrast, the death of Agnes Bojaxhiu.  She was born in Albania in 1910.  At the age of 18 she had a heartfelt call to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the most unwanted, unloved and uncared-for people in society.  She left her home and family and began a life of service that would span 87 years.  With just 13 assistants, she took on the monumental task of helping thousands.  Through her devotion to the ‘least of these’, she won the love and admiration of tens of thousands.  By the end of her life, she had over 100,000 people in 123 countries dutifully working under her authority.  She had a movie made about her, she won numerous international awards and honors and even was able to secure a ceasefire between the Israeli’s and Palestinians, long enough to rescue 37 mentally ill people from a Beirut hospital.  She accomplished all this and much more yet she never raised her voice or threatened anyone. At well under 5 feet tall and 100 lbs. she certainly never intimidated anyone.  Upon her death in 1997 the Nation of India gave her a state funeral attended by tens of thousands.  Through charity, mercy, compassion and determination this simple woman won the respect and admiration of multitudes.  Such was the life of Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

It’s interesting that people, particularly men, consistently mistake deference or even resignation for respect.  Respect is something that every human being deserves by virtue of their humanity.  Men may earn greater respect, even adulation from others through acts of charity, heroism, compassion, mercy and justice.  But menacing and browbeating will never earn anyone respect.  Rather, those who practice such things will not only forfeit the respect of others, but also set themselves up for a great fall.

Whether it be family, friends, coworkers or fellow bikers, if you desire to be a man or woman of respect, I suggest you look to one of the above underlined attributes to secure the respect of others.  Otherwise, upon your downfall, you may be sure that you will suffer the same rejection as others, who have mistaken submission for respect.

 

God bless you and see you on the road.

Bob Anton, Christian Motorcyclists Association

For more information on CMA or questions or comments concerning this column, please contact Bob Anton at 631-897-8122 or baftmny@aol.com