Archive for February, 2015

In an age when it is the ideas that are important, why are office holders so dogged in demanding reverence? Why do office holders require others to use titles to address them?  We are all equals. Doesn’t insisting on being addressed in a fancy way indicate an inferiority complex rather than confidence?
     — BB

Dear BB,

Since the Stone Age, man has addressed those with specific roles by title.  This lets everyone know who is who in the hierarchy. And, there is always hierarchy in a room when there is a group of people.

Much of what you find so irritating is a person’s craving to hold onto status and privilege. We all find this to be unbearable when we observe it in others.

When we notice this behavior, it’s wise to remember that in democracies, the power of public office does not belong to the occupants — but to the citizens: a current office holder wields the power of the people. Thus, respecting the office — and the current office holder — respects the people. Whenever you show respect to someone you show respect to yourself.

When I was a teenager my Dad gave some advice to me that still resonates today, I was frustrated with some completely unreasonable dictum handed down by my Mother. He calmly said “Robert, you don’t say those words in that tone of voice to your Mother. You may disagree with what your Mother says, but you owe her your respect because she is your Mother.”

Our presidents, prime ministers, premiers, mayors, police officers, even our bosses, fall into this category deserving some deference simply due to their office.

So, while we may personally disagree with a judge, we behave appropriately in his or her courtroom thus respecting the rule of law. That’s why they call misbehaving in court “contempt of court’ not “contempt of the judge.”

Sometimes we do encounter an official who is demanding special treatment. Just remember that this current-office-holder unlike our “Dad” or “Mom” is just temporarily in the role. His or her successor may be more down to earth and to our liking!

        — Robert Hickey

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