Show Some Respect Michel de Montaigne once said, “There is, nevertheless, a certain respect and a general duty of humanity that ties us, not only to beasts that have life and sense, but even to trees and plants” (Foglia). Respect is the catalyst in the formation of a stepping stone on the path through the forest of life, creating bonds with all living creatures along the way. It is through respect that the other six of the seven teachings are formed. Instilled in the youth of my time, or at least in my family, is to always be respectful towards all elders. This is something that today’s youth has let fade into the past.
It is heart wrenching to see elders being bad mouthed, ignored, and treated so cruelly. I was always taught to listen to what my elders were offering me in advice, even if I didn’t want it. I never once dared to talk back. If you respect your elders, take the time to listen. You’ll be truly inspired as you hear their stories of long ago. Elders hold so much wisdom of the past, we can learn from them on how to better our future as people and caretakers of mother earth. Croaker 2 That being said, respect can also be defined in how we treat Mother Earth. Taking the time to recycle is one way of showing respect to her.
It’s really sad to see all the garbage being buried beneath her surface. Mother Earth is not a dumping ground, she’s a birthing ground. Every spring she gives birth to new life to shed more beauty upon us. From the first flower breaking the surface to the greening of the trees. She welcomes in not only the human births, but the births of animals as well. That alone deserves the utmost respect, so let’s do our part and keep her clean. “Respect yourself and take good care of yourself” (Using the Seven Traditional Teachings to Raise Healthy Anishinaabe Children 18).
This is the first step in defining what respect is. How do you treat yourself? Do you ask for help when you need it or do you proceed alone? Questions purposely left unanswered because it’s too hard to face the fact that they lost respect for themselves. People are constantly disrespecting their bodies by abusing drugs and alcohol. Maybe that’s why most won’t look in the mirror. They are too afraid they won’t like what they see because they lost all respect for their spirit to thrive. Because of this I see the pain emanating from the eyes of our precious elders as they watch our youth commit cultural genocide.
Mashkode-bizhiki, translated into English from the Ojibwe language means buffalo. I do not know exactly why our people chose this animal to represent respect in the seven teachings. However, I believe their paths have been intertwined with the Anishinaabe people because together they endured the tests of time. They had to go survive harsh winter conditions without the luxury of electricity to keep them warm at night. They were also slaughtered senselessly by Croaker 3 the white man as they took their lands from them. Here we are today, still standing strong but fewer in numbers just like the mashkode-bizhiki.
If the path through the forest of life was marked with stones that represented each one of our sacred seven teachings, the stone of respect would begin the path. The next teachings would then follow. Because, respect forms all other teachings that assists in the formation of bonds with all living creatures as well. Works Cited: Foglia, Marc. “Michel De Montaigne. ” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 18 Aug 2004. Web. 21 Jan 2013. <http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/montaigne>. “Using the Seven Teachings to Raise Healthy Anishinaabe Children. ” Booklet. 18. print