Some of my favorite lines by Dangerfield were, “When I was a kid I got no respect. I asked my old man if I could go ice skating on the lake. He told me to wait till it gets warmer.
“My psychiatrist told me I’m going crazy. I told him, ‘I’d like a second opinion.’ He said, ‘All right. You’re ugly too!’
“Last week I told my psychiatrist, ‘I keep thinking about suicide.’ He told me from now on I have to pay in advance.
“Oh, last week was a rough week. I noticed my gums were shrinking. I was brushing my teeth with Preparation H.”
This nightclub icon of self-deprecating humor could go on and on about how he got no respect and made millions laugh!
He said, “I went to see my doctor — Doctor Vidi-boom-bah. I told him once, ‘Doctor, every morning when I get up and look in the mirror I feel like throwing up. What’s wrong with me?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, but your eyesight is perfect.’
“What a childhood I had, why, when I took my first step, my old man tripped me! I could tell my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.
“I come from a stupid family. During the Civil War my great uncle fought for the West! My wife’s not too smart either. I told her our kids were spoiled. She said, ‘All kids smell that way!’”
At the end of the day, Rodney Dangerfield got respect by becoming a comedian who knew how to laugh at himself and make others laugh with him. Having said that, I wonder how many of us feel we get the respect we want or deserve?
Do you feel we live in a world where people in general respect others or has respect lost ground in today’s society? Veteran anchorwoman Deborah Norville, author of “The Power of Respect,” wrote, “Nearly eight in ten Americans (79 percent) say a lack of respect and courtesy is a serious national problem, and most people say it’s getting worse.”
Do you agree? It might surprise you to know that even Almighty God knows what it feels like to be treated without respect. At Numbers 14:11 He said to Moses, “How long will these people disrespect me? And how long will they doubt me after all the signs that I performed among them?” — Common English Bible.
The consequences for the Israelites’ lack of respect was made clear in Numbers 14:22-23. Jehovah said, “None of the men who saw my glory and the signs I did in Egypt and in the desert, but tested me these ten times and haven’t listened to my voice, will see the land I promised to their ancestors. All who disrespected me won’t see it.” — Common English Bible.
How do you feel about people who disrespect you? Are you inclined to grant them favors? Although respect for others was the norm in modern society 100 years ago, the opposite is true today.
This is of particular interest to true Christians. Why? Because what amounts to a gross lack of respect worldwide was foretold as a sign that humans are living in the “last days” of this world as we know it.
According to 2 Timothy 3:1-4, society in general would be dominated by people who are “self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” — New World Translation.
All of these traits suggest a lack of respect for God and neighbor as humans draw closer to a time when the Almighty will bring needed changes to a world tilting over with disrespect. So, how do you turn it around on a personal level?
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, author of “The Insulted and Humiliated,” wrote,
“If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.”
Confucius said centuries earlier, “Respect yourself and others will respect you.”
Philosopher Lao Tzu said, “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”
Self-respect is important. Earning respect is essential. But giving respect is vital to getting respect from others. As Jesus said at Matthew 7:12, “Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about.” — Contemporary English Version.
If Rodney Dangerfield could earn respect by making people laugh at his looks and family life, you can certainly get people to respect you as well. How? By having a sense of humor, developing self-esteem and treating others the way you want to be treated. More importantly, we can earn the respect of God by being obedient to Him.