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Having the Courage to Respect Others is Key to Gaining Respect

Jan. 1, 2005 – Pat Lawlis

Softball is about a lot of things. Certainly it is about the thrill of competition that runs in our blood. It is also about sharing memories and making memories with other women our own age, laughing and crying together, and living life to the fullest.

However, I was recently reminded that softball is not all fun and games. After hearing of at least a half dozen teams that have been struggling with internal strife, it struck me that this was more than an isolated incident.

This led me to the consideration of several important virtues that contribute to quality of life, in softball and in general. The YMCA I belong to has these virtues showcased on the wall Caring, Honesty, Responsibility, and Respect.

Women have come a long way from our youth, when most of us found that being a girl meant that we did not get the same level of respect as boys. Many of us fought hard to get better treatment, to get respect. But the other virtues caring, honesty, and responsibility go along with respect. I heard Senator John McCain say recently that courage is the virtue that enables all the other virtues.

Our upbringing did not usually include the emphasis on responsibilities and respect for us as women. We certainly were not usually thought of as potential leaders. Yet most of us have had to be leaders throughout our lives. We have led our families, raising our children. We have led in the workplace, often after long struggles to attain such positions. And many of us are in positions of leadership on our softball teams. All of us, leaders or not, deserve to be respected. And expecting that, it is the responsibility of all of us to show respect to others as well, whether it is easy or not.

In softball and in life, it is sometimes necessary to face difficult situations and make hard decisions. Good friends and good teammates care enough to take the responsibility to approach their sisters with open honesty. Things that are worth saying about a sister should be said to her rather than behind her back. That is not easy, but it is one important measure of respect. And courage is necessary to accomplish this.

In caring, we risk being rejected. In being honest, we risk having to admit to our own shortcomings. In taking responsibility, we risk having to expose our own faulty reasoning. And in showing respect, we have to face someone with all of the above, leaving the comfort of our own thoughts and risking our own estimate of self-worth as we enter what may be an uncomfortable interaction with a sister. After all, there are always at least two sides to every issue, and respect allows them to be heard. Yes, it all requires courage.

We have all reaped the benefits of the increased opportunities that have become available over the years. This certainly includes the opportunities available to us in senior softball. We must never forget that with added opportunities come added responsibilities. Do we have the courage to accept those responsibilities? If we want to have good friends, we must have the courage to be good friends. If we want to be respected, we must have the courage to respect others. In life and in softball.

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