Today was the first day back to work this year for everyone at the mission. We spent it participating in an all-day seminar on Character, based on the materials we are working to implement in the schools here. Of the 7 character traits covered in the material, we went over 3 today: Respect, Responsibility, and Fairness/Justice. While these things are still fresh in my mind, I want to share a few thoughts (if random) that occurred to me during the seminar. (These are not necessarily things that were said by presenters; I am just sharing what has formed in my own brain based on what I heard.)
Respect - Respect is very closely tied to Love. The level of respect we show to people indicates what we think of them, much like a mirror. However, (the thought in this sentence comes from Benny Baker) we should respect people not because they deserve it but because we are respectful people. If we respect people more than they deserve, even though our human nature makes this distasteful to us, it actually makes us look better in the eyes of other people. People who are respectful of others tend to be those whom others want to respect.
Responsibility - As Christians, we all reflect God to the world. (See 2 Cor. 3:18, "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." and Matt. 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world... In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."). Unfortunately, we can never give an accurate picture of God because we are fallable humans, but it is our responsibility to present as accurate of a picture as we can. Of course, God is love, and it is our job to let the world know that God loves each person. The Church is supposed to do this by, together, embodying Christ, the ultimate personification of love. That is what it means to be the body of Christ.
Fairness/Justice - Acting fairly or justly involves not just being nice and considerate to people but weighing different ideas to be able to make wise decisions. For example, if someone commits a crime, the judge must evaluate the evidence, and once the person is found guilty, the judge gives a sentence that is in line with the severity of the crime. Or, in a situation where two or more people have opposing desires, a just authority figure would consider whose need was the greatest, etc. and then give out resources (or whatever) accordingly. In order to satisfy our inner sense of fairness, things that happen to us or to other people must match our perceived value of whomever they happen to. If we think we are of equal value with our peers but we are the only one who does not receive something positive, we feel slighted. However, if we place greater value on our leader, we will feel that it is appropriate for them to be the only one to receive something. With this in mind, for a person to be able to exercise justice in a given situation, they must know all of the facts. Whose need is greater? What value do the people involved place on themselves and on each other? What and how much have the people already received (of resources, attention, etc.)? A person wanting to be treated fairly would do well to communicate these things, but, by the same token, a person wanting to treat others fairly can start by finding out these things.
These are just some of the ideas that stuck out in my brain. (And, like I said, these are mostly my own random thoughts, not just what was presented to me.) There is a lot more that I am still trying to process. I think we have begun to take an honest look in the mirror, and that has brought out things both to praise God for and to work on improving. I pray that he transforms us more and more into His likeness every day.