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Dignity and Respect!

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There was a man who bought a lovely house in the suburbs. 

On the day he moved in, the man’s new neighbor came running across the yard in an obviously belligerent state. “Did you buy this house?” asked the neighbor. 

“Yes I did,” was the reply. 

The neighbor continued, “Well, I want to tell you something. You bought a lawsuit. You see that fence of yours? It’s at least seven feet over on my side of the line, and if it takes every dollar I’ve got, I intend to sue you and get that fence moved.”

The new homeowner said, “Well, neighbor, I’m sorry to hear this. I bought this house in good faith, but I believe you’re telling the truth about this situation and I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. First thing tomorrow morning, I’ll have that fence moved back those seven feet.” 

The neighbor was dumbfounded. “What did you say?” The new owner repeated, “I’m going to have that fence moved back seven feet.”

“No, you’re not,” was the response. “You leave it right where it is, and anything you need from now on is yours for the asking.”

We don’t know what had happened between that angry man and his previous neighbor. All the man seemed to be asking for was to be treated with a little dignity and respect. That is what most people crave. Someone who does not accord dignity and respect to others does not know what the teachings of Jesus are all about.

Thanks to  Arthur F. Sueltz for the story of the fence and to King Duncan.

Thanks to Aubrey Odom for the picture.

In 2002 The Boston Globe published the results of its Spotlight investigation of priests who had sexually abused minors. This led to worldwide investigations of how priests and religious had sexually abused minors over many years. Since 2002 the Catholic Church in the United States has paid over $3 billion in sexual abuse settlements. 

I have counselled several persons who were sexually abused by priests over the past 54 years, with most of them being abused by priests as children and teenagers long before 2002. In every case, none of the victims were seeking money. Every victim came to me because a bishop or another priest would not believe them. The defense by these clergy was always of the accused priest. All of the victims I have encountered over the years were not seeking to go to court or looking for money. They were simply looking for dignity and respect and to be believed and this did not happen. 

The world you and I live in today has millions of victims — in Israel and Palestine, in Ukraine and on our country’s borders. They are all victims of brutality and warfare. They are looking to YOU and to ME for dignity and respect. 

By YOUR words and deeds, do YOU show dignity and respect to ALL of God’s children?


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