Respect. Our English word derives from the Latin respicio, meaning to look back, to look again. That has always suggested to me that an essential part of respect is giving time, pausing, weighing, deliberating a little. First thoughts are not always wise ones, nor are they always just. Yesterday we saw how quickly Twitter was awash with comments on the death of Margaret Thatcher. They ranged from instant canonisation to condemnation to the pit of hell. Personally, I found the gibes harder to take than the adulation, mainly because I regard death as important and am very conscious of the grief many must feel. In those first few hours after death we need to register what has happened and allow time for prayer and reflection. There is a kind of decency about allowing a little space before jumping in with our own summing up of another’s life and work.

I shall not be writing any assessment of Lady Thatcher. Others are much better qualified than I for such a task, but I do hope I shall give her respect. It does not mean that one waters down the truth or avoids unpleasantness, but it does mean that one tries to act with compassion. It is part of being civilized. Indeed, I dare to say it is part of being human.


7 thoughts on “Respect”

  1. Very well said.

    I admit, I have been avoiding most social media since the news came in, because I know far too many people who do not have your understanding of respect!

    Blessings, Danielle

  2. There has been a noticeable trend in recent years to “celebrate” the death of people who may be very unpopular. Unseemly news coverage of the death of Muammar Gaddafi/Saddam Hussein and the ghoulish glee around the demise of Osama Bin Laden feed this collectrive hatred. While many may have strong feelings about a person and their actions (justified) the death of any person should be regarded as a loss. Respect for the person and their family who will be sad at the time is something to hold on to. There will be plenty of time to mull over the career of a politician who probably does not deserve adulation or revulsion. A prayer for the family and the person who has died is all we can offer, the rest is really up to a much more compassionate judge.

  3. I think very fair comment made here, as human beings we are all failaible and Lady Thatcher was no different, at the end of the day she was a woman, wife, mother and like most political leaders began her career with the hope of doing some good. My condolences to all who grieve.

  4. I agree. Just wonder how ‘respect as a word has been used in certain circles to justify violence of one against another because they have not been ‘respected’ it seems to be particularly prevalent in some youth culture in London and the South East.

    It shows that words can be turned or manipulated for good or bad. In the case of Mrs Thatcher there has been much rhetoric which has a powerful effect on some readers or listeners.

    This morning I was on my way to Canterbury, listening to BBC Radio Kent who featured Margaret Thatcher on their phone in. One caller was extremely abusive towards her, blaming her for everything that had gone wrong in his life – and by extension everyone involved in politics. His words were “I hate them, I hate the lot of them” he sadly seemed extremely bitter and holding a grudge seemed to me to be quite unhealthy.

    I was instantly drawn to pray for him and for all of those who are feeling hurt or disadvantaged by any action that they attribute to Mrs Thatcher or Thatcherism in general. I prayed for peace and calm in their lives and reconciliation with our Saviour to bring about that change in them to allow it through his grace.

  5. Thank you all for your comments. Many people have registered a similar sense of shock that anyone’s death should be treated so aggressively. Unfortunately, it seems to be becoming more and more commonplace to ‘rejoice over one’s enemies’ — sometimes restraint is preferable to full-on ‘honesty’.

Comments are closed.