I had to learn this lesson the hard way.
My friend in High School – let’s call him David – was pretty mean to other people. I wouldn’t actively try to be mean to other kids, but I always laughed when David was. We were pretty terrible kids. Once, I went to a debate conference over the weekend. David asked if he could borrow my car to get home on Friday. I said that was fine if he brought it back by Sunday so I could get home.
I came back Sunday to find that my car was gone. After many phone calls and my other friend Aaliyah giving me a ride, I found out that David had taken my car for a joyride over the weekend and was partying some place I had never heard of. I had to go there, find David, fight with him to get my keys back, and drive my trashed car home.
I learned the hard way – the pithy statement from William H Swanson – that if someone is nice to you but is rude to the waiter, they are not a nice person.
I learned from David that if someone doesn’t respect someone else in private, then they probably are saying the same kinds of rude things about you privately to other people. That if someone says they like you but they disrespect Southerners, foreigners, or an entire group of people, that’s it’s only a matter of time before they disrespect you as well.
Now I make friends with people who hold each other in reverence. The meaning behind the word is to have a deep respect for something. Religiously, it means to hold certain things sacred. In our human relations, the basic dignity of people should always be respected. This is easy to do with people we agree with, but not so easy with people we don’t agree with. Holding each other reverently doesn’t mean to never disagree or dislike, it just means that you take the high road and treat others how you would want to be treated. That if you do something wrong you’d like to hear about it respectfully. My basic belief about Unitarian Universalism is that we have faith in people no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary, and holding each other in reverence is one way to practice this every day. And I appreciate David for the lesson he taught me, even though I never was able to fix the rear passenger window in my 1988 Plymouth Reliant K.