01/03/2015 08:06 am ET Updated Mar 05, 2015

Respect for Others in 2015

I wish many things for 2015, but one in particular is "Respect for others." The basic concept of respect covers a large spectrum of subjects; I am mentioning only a few in hopes that my comments will stimulate your thinking. Perhaps together we can come up with a list of things we all need to do to help make respect for others more prevalent in 2015.

In my opinion respect for others starts in the home with young children. Parents need to teach and practice respect for themselves and other members of the family. I am appalled at how some parents talk to their children and allow their children to speak to them. I witness some parents and children shouting at one another, and sometimes using foul language. This is teaching disrespect that goes far beyond the family. Parents need to teach children early on how to disagree with another person without shouting and yelling and name-calling.

I see parents at parks and at restaurants checking their cell phones and texting instead of interacting with their children, sometimes even reprimanding their children for interrupting their texting. Again, this teaches disrespect for others. When parents take their children with them to have fun, their first priority should be paying attention to their children.

I hear teachers in public and private schools talk about how difficult it is to discipline children--and to make it worse parents tend to side with their children instead of supporting the teachers. This fosters a general disrespect for authority. Also, I fault school administrators and teachers for allowing bullying in their schools. Alert teachers, coaches, and administrators should know who the bullies are and should do something about them. And some coaches teach disrespect by stressing winning at all costs.

Many separated and divorced parents teach their children disrespect for other people by using their children as pawns in negotiations to get what they want. It would be very interesting if judges would let the children stay in one house and require the parents to move in and out a couple of times a week, having to take from house to house their clothes and computers and what have you. How would that work?

Teaching respect for others starts at home and in schools. As the Bible says: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:06, RSV)

We need to put aside racial barriers, and all of us need to have respect for those of other races and treat them accordingly. We certainly have seen police use excessive force, but we also have seen people not obey police. Again, this starts in the home. All children -- black and white and all other colors -- should be taught to respect the police and do what they ask us to do at the time; we can argue about whether or not what they ask us to do is fair or just at a later time. When they are doing their duty as police officers, we need to obey them. And they need to respect us for respecting them. It works both ways!

People have every right to demonstrate in peaceful ways. But destroying other people's property, breaking windows, and turning over cars is not showing respect for other people, especially when most of these people have no reason to be demonstrated against. Blocking traffic so parents cannot get home to their children or causing people to miss work, many of them who live from paycheck to paycheck, is treating others with disrespect. We need to respect the fact that any person has the right to disagree with another person or a group of persons, but it merely causes more misunderstanding when we disagree in disrespectful ways.

Breaking into a house or car or store, stealing someone's purse or wallet, or taking anything from another person without their knowledge is an act of disrespect. No one has a right, regardless of the circumstances, to take something that belongs to someone else. Just because some people have more than we do does not give anyone the right to take from them unlawfully.

I see a lack of respect for the property of others by the ways some families treat toys in toy stores or how people look at clothes in clothing stores; many times people pay no attention to how they leave things after looking at them. Although these may be stores and not people, stores belong to people, and such disregard for how we treat items in stores is disrespectful of the property of others.

Governments on all levels show their disrespect for the people they govern in many ways. People in government routinely spend public money in ways that they would never spend their own. We need more bipartisan effort to reduce unnecessary expenditures instead of habitually spending more and raising taxes. Every organization or agency wants more money, but how are the people to come up with more money time and again?

When the government finds ways of making more and more money available for students to borrow instead of focusing on the causes of the routine increases of college tuition, it shows a lack of respect for people. Student debt is entirely out of control. Many people retire and still owe on their student loans. Paying back large student loans is a terrible burden on people, and those who are responsible for making burdensome loans available -- college administrators, the U.S. Secretary of Education, and members of the U.S. Congress -- are showing a complete disrespect for other people.

I have touched on only a handful of examples of disrespect for people. I hope what I have mentioned stimulates your thinking about respect for, and treatment of, other people. In 2015 one of my primary wishes is that all of us will concentrate on treating other people with respect. I have just scratched the surface; I encourage you to give this entire matter some very deep consideration. Perhaps you can encourage your friends to join the effort. But only thinking is not enough; we need to engage in constructive action.