Respect is a Drug

I made a new friend recently, and he introduced me to one of the most powerful drugs I’ve ever experienced.  A little bit goes a long way, it doesn’t cost much money, but it’s pretty hard to come by.

So I was glad my first time was free, because otherwise I still might not know what it was like. When we’re using, it’s like the world is a different place.  I feel stronger, I think more clearly, it’s like the world becomes as it should be.

But something does happen when I’m using that makes me uncomfortable.  I think you call it being respected and listened to.

It’s not uncommon for my supplier to look me in the eyes and wait for me to complete my thought, or if he doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say, he’ll ask me to explain more…and then he’ll pause to listen.

In short, he takes me seriously in whatever conversation we’re having, seriously enough to engage with an attitude of respect and open ears, with a willingness to ask questions when something isn’t clear.

You have to understand, I’m a member of a generation of cynics, skeptics, and saints of sarcasm. My most comfortable friendships involve plenty of bite towards whatever political, social, religious, or personal dilemmas are current.

There’s a safety and a comfort in hiding behind the walls of cynicism in these relationships, because even though we know we’re on the same page, none of us really wants to do the work of active engagement, where you risk exposing the weaknesses in your own arguments and the broken prejudices you bring to the table.

It’s not like that with this newfound friend of mine. It’s like he wants to actually grow and learn and change his thinking if he’s wrong.  It’s like he genuinely wants to understand where I’m coming from, and I find his openness makes me want to genuinely understand where he’s coming from, as well.

There are few things in life I find as intimidating as being taken seriously and being respected and held to account for the views I hold and the statements I make. So it’s intimidating to meet with this friend.

But it’s also like a balm to my soul, because few things are as helpful in life as being taken seriously, being respected and held to account for the views I hold and the statements I make.  Few things humanize me more than being taken seriously.

That in itself is intimidating, because when I start to see the people around me as worth taking seriously…the game changes completely.  Respect is a drug, and I’d love to go from user to pusher.

Need some?  I promise, your first time’s free.

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