Respect

We just returned from a much-needed trip to Jamaica without the kids. Jamaica has been a part of our relationship since the first time we met– Scotty bought me a Red Stripe the first night we met. A year or so later, he surprised me with a trip to Jamaica to propose– on a pier with a bucket of Red Stripes. The joke became that he should have bought me a domestic made beer to save money– but thankfully it’s just a joke. Since then, it’s been the place we return to for a recharge. Since that first trip, we’ve discovered that more than the beaches and gorgeous tropical weather, we’ve fallen in love with the people of Jamaica. Whether it’s the sunshine, the salt air, a diet rich in plantains and curry goat or the influence of Rastafarianism and Bob Marley, I’m not sure. Jamaicans are quick to smile and are always open to humor– something our culture seems to need more of for sure. We’ve made good friends there and are always thankful for the hospitality and the rich culture we’ve been lucky enough to observe.

While on the shuttle to our hotel in the pouring rain through flooded roads, we passed a gritty area- a few goats tied to ropes, a concrete brick wall separating a field of scrap metal from a parking lot. Scrawled on the wall in spray paint were the words, “NO TRUSTPASSING”. I wasn’t fast enough to take a photo, but the phrase stuck in my head as notable. Surely they meant “No Trespassing”, but I loved that the spelling mishap instead referenced making a boundary that involved trust. Doesn’t every boundary uphold trust? Whether it’s the concept referenced in Robert Frost’s poetry, “Good fences make good neighbors” or that crossing a line involves one party trusting the other one; both refer to upholding a boundary between vulnerability and permission. I know the word was misspelled, but it was enough that it brought attention to the concept of one honoring another’s boundaries and giving respect as a prerequisite for trust.

Jamaicans have a strong understanding of respect, a personal honor they give and require from one another. It’s no wonder that the One Love concept originated here; most conversations whether in English or Patois end in the term, “respect” or “maximum respect”. In honoring the inherent presence in one another, Jamaicans set a standard the rest of the world should mind as well. One Love means we are all the same- we all belong. The current political climate is interested in drawing boundaries– without respect–which means that we can’t exactly grow or give love if neither party is respecting the other. Focusing on division won’t bring us together– focusing on what we do share in common will. Talking to a new friend in Jamaica, I asked what she does when her kids get sassy. She smiled and threw her head back in understanding laughter- and in that moment, we were just two moms bonding over the difficulties of motherhood. We respected one another, we have the same role for our daughters to play and we have the same struggles. That connection is what makes the world smaller… trust, respect, understanding.

Maybe consider this concept the next time you build a wall or a boundary. Reaching through the fence to a neighbor is integral to the success of that boundary. Give what you wish to receive- respect. Only then can we be closer to One Love.

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