All about respect: It’s OK to disagree, just be courteous

By Susan Cox

I recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to watch my son march in the inaugural parade as a part of the Sound of North marching band. We’re very grateful for all who helped fund the trip for the band. While there I had the opportunity to attend the inauguration ceremony. I hoped that the divisiveness of the campaign would be put aside as we moved on to a new administration.

However, I was disheartened when the large crowd booed when anyone from the Democratic party was introduced. This included booing President Obama, who deserves respect as the president of our country. I was particularly distressed at the booing and negative comments that began when Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., began to speak. Schumer’s message was about how Americans have always been willing to sacrifice their time, energy and even their lives to make America a better country. I had a hard time hearing the speech over the crowd’s heckling.

I realize that many in the crowd were anxious for Donald Trump to take the oath of office, but Schumer deserved respect, and all in the crowd should have been allowed the opportunity to listen to his message.

My disappointment continued when President Trump’s thanks to President Obama for his help with the transition was met with more booing. Trump was showing his gratitude. Why should that be booed? The crowd did not want to acknowledge that a Democrat could do something helpful.

On the other hand, my experiences with individuals were quite pleasant. I spent lots of time waiting — in line to get through security, at the inauguration and along the parade route — and I had many friendly conversations with the people around me.

I met a man who had been to all the inaugurations since Ronald Reagan was president. I talked with a young lady from Syria, and I met a family with a 3-year-old girl who was a Trump fan — even sporting a Trump hat and flag. We were all different, but were kind to each other.

I was particularly grateful that the people in the front along the parade route were willing to move aside to allow me to be in the front so I could easily see my son march by.

So what made the difference in people’s behavior? At the inauguration, people got caught up in the crowd mentality and just followed along without thinking about the impact of their actions. Additionally, the crowd lumped anyone who didn’t agree with them together making it easy for the crowd to vilify this group they viewed as the opposition.

But do we have to view people with different opinions as the enemy? In an election people do want their candidate to win and viewing the other candidate as an adversary seems natural. When the election is over, however, we need to discard our antagonism and work together. Conservatives and liberals value different things, which often causes conflict as their approaches to problems vary from each other. However, just because someone’s values are different than yours does not mean those values are wrong or invalid; they are just different.

Viewing people as individuals can also help prevent us from seeing others as a stereotype. Try to understand where other people are coming from and what their values are. In addition, we need to be careful to not get swept along with the crowd. Everyone deserves respect whether we agree with them or not. We can disagree and still be respectful.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience at the inauguration. I am grateful that our country can change leaders peacefully and I am grateful that my son, as part of the band, was able to represent our town and state. I am hopeful that if we continue to view each other as individuals and treat everyone respectfully, we can all get along and continue to improve our country.

Susan Cox is one of The Republic’s community columnists, and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. She is a mother, an adjunct instructor of English at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus and a substitute teacher for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. She can be reached at editorial@therepublic.com.