Read with caution…I am feeling a bit more raw these days…
Sounds simple enough, you respect me, I respect you. Kreole, English, ASL, German-it doesn’t matter, still means the same thing. God calls us to love each other, love God, love others; in my opinion respect goes hand in hand with love. I could be wrong, or perhaps too much of an optimist; I have been known to be both in the past.
The last few weeks have made this topic hot in my mind, and today sent it over the top.
Recently I had a meeting with-let’s call him a ‘Haitian business owner’-who had some issues with another Haitian. I was stuck in the middle and trying to get to the bottom of the situation receiving bits and pieces of one side of the story. This week I went to visit with the business owner and hear his side of the story. Immediately the issue was laid on the table; ‘He doesn’t respect me, I don’t want him around my property again. He thinks because he works with white people that he is better than me, but I don’t want whatever he might have to offer if it comes at the price of being disrespected.’
I get it. You’re right. I agree. You deserve to be respected, we ALL do.
I have heard there is a class system in Haiti; and those who work with white people seem to be closer to the top. I don’t want to judge or stereotype, but now that it has been brought to my attention, as I think back on conversations and different encounters over my time in Haiti; I see the system.
I have to say this whole misunderstanding in this situation came partly at the fault of the white person, from me. ‘Gifts’ we will call them were donated for a project, all of the gifts weren’t used and so the Haitian business owner used the excess as he saw fit not knowing we over order as a precaution, as I did not clearly communicate it.
I explained to a friend the revelation I had today:
When someone gives you a dress, a Easter Sunday dress lets say, and after Easter Sunday you wish to wear out to a dinner party-the dress is a gift, as receiver of that gift you see how best to use the gift. After it served it purpose you want to wear it to dinner, or a baseball game or just around the house. The gift is yours, it is up to you what you would like to do with it.
The same theory can be applied to this situation. As I looked around I began thinking of all the projects I have been involved in here in Haiti. If someone is built a house, it is up to them if they see that as a business opportunity to lease out, unless I specify otherwise in the terms of the contract. If someone decides to use their living room in their new house as a restaurant, beauty parlor, or phone recharger business, we allow them to. In fact we encourage it! Micro enterprise, sustainability-I’m all for it! I respect that you know what is best for your future!
The Haitian business man in my situation, as the person directly involved with the ‘establishment’ knows and understands the best way to use the excess of the gift. He didn’t know we had other plans for the excess, I didn’t tell him. He saw a need and extra supplies, in my opinion he was being innovative and resourceful.
Bringing this to my personal life, as the person on the ground, given the gift of responsibilities of a job, I often feel frustrated if someone questions why I do something. I realized this bothers me so much because it makes me feel disrespected, and no one likes that feeling, just ask my Haitian business owner friend! I realize there is a difference between job responsibilities and the other factors of life, but I there is a parallel here.
To bring this back around to respect…
My Haitian friend helped me realize sometimes people don’t want what we have to offer, simply because we are offering it. At what cost? What would I put aside for a job or ‘important’ connection in life if I know it comes at a cost? If it means you don’t respect me, but want to have me in your back pocket-to manipulate and use. No thank you.
What happened to random acts of kindness? What happened to the time when people did something from the goodness of their hearts? Respect is more valuable in my mind than any building you could donate, or job you can connect me with; more valuable than gifts and more valuable than money.
Tonight I am reflecting on my relationships, in all areas of my life. Those I respect and those I need to get back down to the simple commandment of LOVE, loving others. Love one another, respect one another. When met with resistance, love on, hope for the best…perhaps it will catch on like wildfire…