Teach Respect With Respect

Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.
Albert Camus
A couple days ago, the net went into a buzz over the “Mother of the Year,” a woman who found out her son was involved in the Baltimore Riots. She went to where he was and started teaching the young man “discipline.” That wasn’t a lesson in discipline; it was a lesson in violence.

We complain about the violent nature of society, about men who resort to violence as a way to solve problems or to “inspire” respect. We see it in the police officer who enforces respect of the law through fear, the guy down the street who wants his rights respected through intimidation, the husband who expects respect in his home through domestic violence, or the mother who teaches her son respect by beating it into him.

And that’s where the problem starts. Most violent men learn to equate violence and respect, not in the streets, but at home while they were still kids. The belt or the “chancleta” (flip-flops) don’t teach respect, they teach fear. So we end up with men whose fear of getting caught doing the wrong thing is greater than their love of doing the right thing. We don’t want to create good men but simply to punish the bad out of them. 

That doesn’t work.

Unless men are taught about respect with respect, their view of what respect is will be distorted. We will end up with men who don’t really care about doing what’s right, but care about not getting caught doing what’s wrong. We will end up with men who think that you have to beat respect into your loved ones, as they assume that fear and respect is the same thing.

Does this mean we shouldn’t punish those who do wrong? That we should accept unacceptable behavior? No. Wrong should never be accepted or condoned. But as a man, I have no right to demean a person in their own eyes, I have no right to undermine a person’s self-respect in order for them to respect me.

Only my enemies should fear me, not my loved ones.

Maybe if we focused more on what a man can do right than what he is doing wrong, maybe, just maybe, we might end up with men doing more right than wrong. If we teach this lesson to our boys, we might end up with men who strive to be more.


The Closer You Are, The Less They See

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.
Nathaniel Branden
Some time ago, I wrote about the importance of understanding that you can’t change anyone. People need to change for themselves. What you can do is inspire them to change. And it’s that inspiration that leads most men to change, to want to be more, to be better. Many times this change is a realization of how they need to be a better friend, a better son, a better brother, a better husband, or a better father. With that understanding, the man sets off to grow into a better person, inspired by how they can be more for someone they love; they are confronted with an unexpected result.

The person doesn’t see it.

I know that you should change for yourself, to become a better person because, well, you don’t change to impress others. You do change to be a better man, and as a result, become more for those around you. But if we are able to get off the moralistic high horse and be completely honest, having those who inspired your change to recognize it gives us a sense of validation, further inspiration to move forward. Yet, let me warn you right now. Those who are the closest to you are probably the last to notice your change.

Think of it this way. You realize that you need to lose weight, so you go on a diet and start working out. You adjust your eating habits and your lifestyle to achieve the goal. Before anyone notices, you start to see the changes. By the 4th week, your clothing starts to fit better or even loose. Nobody has said anything yet, as these minor changes aren’t that evident. By week 8, maybe a coworker or a friend you haven’t seen in a while compliments you on your weight loss. Ironically, those that see you every day constantly haven’t said a word about it. Maybe, if you’re lucky, after a couple of months, those around you will notice the change.

The reason for this is simple, they see you every day. Gradual change isn’t that easy to see. Your change is like a rock being slowly eroded by the weather into a new shape. To those who see the rock every day, they don’t see any change, but to those who see it every once in a while, this change isn’t as gradual. But unlike weight loss or an eroding rock, you can’t really track personal change. There isn’t a scale that can weigh neither integrity nor character.

The reality is, like the rock being weathered and eroded; you are trying to chip away at the image those close to you have created for years and years. It’s ironic how your past actions and attitude, the same ones you want to change as you realize how they affect those around you, are the same ones that make it difficult to those around you to see your change. You have to understand and become aware that you can’t change an opinion that you forged for several years in just a few months of change.

The good news is that they probably have included your change to their image of you; they just haven’t become aware of it. Our image of someone is created by our subconscious, so these opinions change and adjust without our realization. You just need to give the person time to make the realization of just how much you have changed.

But, there are a couple of ways to help the person realize how you have changed…

I have to bring this up before we move on. Some people don’t want to see you change. Their image of you justifies their attitude towards you or the fact that you changed into someone better exposes their insecurities. Be observant as these people will try to hinder any change you try to do to make yourself into more.

As I said, there are two ways to help make someone aware of your change.

The first is to become aware of how much the other person has changed and become more. We tend to focus on ourselves, and quite often fall into the same behavior we criticize on others. Look at the other person and become aware of how they have changed in a positive way. Compliment them on this. Awareness and positivity is just as contagious as criticism and negativity. Affect their attitude and perception by adjusting your own. As they realize how you are aware of their growth, they will become aware of your own.

The second is to make a change that isn’t so gradual. Change the way they see you by doing a change they will see every day. It forces the person to reset how they see you. Have you had a mustache or a beard all your life? Shave it.  You’ve always been a clean shaven man? Grow a beard. Shave your head, or color out your greys, or get contacts to get rid of your glasses. The idea is to basically dynamite the previous image they had of you, shatter that shell to show off the new you. As they see you every day in a way that doesn’t quite fit your previous image, they will start to reshape their image of you.

With all that’s said, keep in mind that as much as you might appreciate having your efforts recognized, receiving recognition isn’t why you decided to change. Take the time to see how your change is helping those around you. Recognize your own efforts and the effects your change has on those around you. Also consider how those around you might be well aware of your change. They just understand that helping you in your change is more important than applauding your change. 


The Response Waiting Period

If you speak when angry, you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.
Groucho Marx
In many places, where civilians are allowed to own a firearm, the government requires that there be a waiting period between the time when the weapon is purchased and the time it’s handed over. Although this time varies from location to location, the general explanation given is so that the government can do a proper background check on the person. Yet, with today’s hyper connected society, a background check can be done almost instantaneously. Even without the government’s resources, as an individual you can Google anyone's life history in less than an hour to know what kind of a person they are. So, with that understood, why would you have to wait 24 hours, 48 hours, or even a week for a background check?

Because it’s not about doing a background check. It’s a cooling off period. It’s giving you enough time to think about why you are getting a weapon. It’s giving you enough to keep you from doing something you will regret the rest of your life. So, if we can understand the logic behind a cooling off period to keep you from your own stupidity, why don’t we use that same logic in any other moment we need to keep ourselves from “doing something you will regret the rest of your life.”

Be it your spouse, your kids, your parents, your boss, or anyone else, comes up to you with the dreaded “we need to talk,” they probably already talked about the issue with you. You just weren’t present during the discussion. We all do this, as we review how to discuss any difficult issue with someone. We review what we want to say and how we will say it. We consider any reply the person might have, practicing what our response to these comments will be. And we do this for days, even weeks. When we think we have every base covered and every scenario pre-rehearsed, we confront the person. Then, even if it took us weeks to get ready, expect the other person to be able to respond instantaneously.

And the other person probably ends up doing something stupid.

As the ability of people today to do constructive criticism has lessened, and our ability to receive ANY kind of criticism is slowly lost as a result, we will probably react to “we need to talk” as a challenge. In this case, it’s within our nature as humans to revert to a fight/flight when confronted. Your reaction will either be to win the argument, however possible, or to run away from it, again however possible. By this time, the conversation has turned into a win/lose situation, where it stops being about understanding, reviewing what is being called out, or even finding common ground.

As communication and openness is crucial in any social interaction, how do you handle this kind of situation, how do you keep it from turning into a power struggle? First, the person bringing up the issue, the one who had enough time to prepare for the exchange, has to give the other person the same consideration of time to review the issues brought up. Second, the person on the receiving end has to listen and consider just what is brought up, not as an attack, but as something they might not have considered.

All Relationship, be it familiar, friendships, romantic, or even business, must be about a balance and a partnership. It should never be a power struggle where one dominates the other. It should be about creating an environment where both persons benefit from each other. By giving a person the space to explain what they are going though and how they feel, you are offering them respect. By giving the person the time to consider what was told to them, you are offering them understanding.

And isn’t that what all relationships should be about? Respect and understanding?


Holding Your Liquor

Every one of us is an artist, and as an artist, you really can stroll into any venue that you want, as long as you take your time to learn the etiquette of that venue.
Terrence Howard
Some time ago, I explained how many of our social behavior, including chivalry, has an origin in practicality. In reality, I think that ALL our social behavior had an origin in practicality; it was just lost along the way. The problem arises when we continue doing things without understanding why we do them. At that point, we continue to repeat these social elements out of a need to demonstrate superiority, which can literally be translated into snobbery. For that reason I think it necessary to explain some of the reasons why these guides exist (I refuse to call them rules, as they are more recommendations than anything else.)

Today we will talk about liquor glasses.

Let me start by stating the following. The only wrong way to hold a glass is if you drop it. Anything else is a valid manner. That said, there are practical reasons why glasses have such distinct shapes, all originating from rather simple reasons based on how you should enjoy the drink.

I am not going to get into a detailed history as to why each glass is which nor what liquor goes with what. This is more of a simple base lesson. Should you be interested in learning more, you can google for specialized sites based on your spirit of choice. With that in mind, let’s start with the basics.

Any stemware (glass with a stem, such as Wine or Martini) should be held at the Stem. The reason is simple; it keeps you from transferring heat from your hand to your drink. Most of these drinks are served cold/cool and since these are sipping drinks, holding the body of the glass will warm them up before you finish.

Speaking about the body, there is a direct relationship between the temperature of the liquor served, the amount of aroma it produces, and the ration between bowl to the rim of the glass. Your taste buds are actually defined by smell, so being able to sniff the drink is critical to enjoying it. The cooler the spirit, the less aroma it releases while the warmer it’s served, the larger amount of aroma. This is because of science. Aroma is nothing more than evaporation, so the more aroma you expect the spirit to release, the bigger the ratio between bowl and rim as a way to capture it. The amount of aroma captured also determines the amount you serve in the glass. This is why flutes are used for colder drinks where aroma isn’t as important, such as sparkling wine, where you serve almost a full glass. This is also why Snifters (Brandy glass) tend to have almost a fishbowl shape and you only serve a small amount of liquor in them.

The old fashion rock glass should be wide enough to hold, well, rocks (ice), and shouldn’t be served past half glass. The ice is there mostly to slowly release water (activating the aroma in scotch) than to keep it cold. Just as shot glasses, the rock glass has a thick base is to keep it from shattering when costumers would slam them on the counter.

Speaking of shot glasses, these are for shots. Any glass that doesn’t leave space for aroma to charge up isn’t meant for sipping.

Beer glasses come as different as beer itself. Pint glasses and mugs work well for almost any beer, but pilsner glasses are specifically made for pilsners and lagers. Their shape allows for a proper head to form, while the longer body allows for a more controlled pour and drink.

There are hundreds of other specialized glassware, each with a reason for their unique shape. With all of this said, there is only real rule with spiritware. That rule is to use it responsibly. Any time you drink to the point where you risk making an ass of yourself, you probably already have. Drinking should be about enjoying your drink and complementing a situation. It should never be about getting drunk, where you probably won’t even remember what happened the night before.