(Re: Words Matter)

Love. Respect. Fairness. I’ve used these concepts as themes in most of my essays on Medium. They’re the tentpoles of the Clay Show. But so that we’re on the same page here, let me define the terms in the way I use them. What follows are off the cuff definitions. If I had more time, I’d expound on each of these, but I wanted to respond to your invitation in a timely manner.


Of the three, this is the only noun; the others are verbs. The concept of fairness implies an impartial application of laws (rules, what-have-you) to any- and everyone to yield outcomes in which bias (positive or negative) was not applied. And in doing so, the results/consequences rendered are not subjective, but objective.


The act of dealing with people in a manner that affords them the freedom to express their opinion, even when their opinions are different from one’s own. My working definition of respect emphasizes not steamrolling others. It’s seeing validity in the cultural, ethnic, religious, etc. differences in others and not deeming them “less than” or “otherly.”


“Love” as I have used it, refers to freely recognizing the humanity (the physical, emotional, and spiritual experiences common to all people) in another human being, and treating that person as you yourself would like to be treated. This includes affording them the same freedoms that you yourself enjoy without persecution. (Yeah, I could go on and on about this one, but remember this is a quick and dirty response. And poorly proofread.)

These three are the tentpoles of The Clay Show. They’re all interdependent. One can’t be “fair” with someone if they don’t deem them worthy of such treatment (respect). A person can think they respect another, but is it really respect if they’re not applying the principle of fairness in dealing with that person? And love? Well, love can’t exist in any form without the other two as far as I’m concerned; but it is possible to treat others with fairness and respect without loving them.

I agree that love, respect, and fairness are instructive words, but I don’t think they place “judgment” on the hearer, as much as they establish self-instructive boundaries for the speaker to work within.

The three keys of fairness, respect, and love do not necessarily open doors to dialogue, but they definitely knock on said doors. I say that because no combination of the three will magically compel a person to respond a certain way, they invite them to.

But remember, two things deflect all three: freedom of choice.

People can be as fair, respectful, or loving to others as possible; but if the intended recipient does not want to open the door and receive the benefits and engage, they can do just that. Refusing to engage with others in fairness, respect, and love doesn’t negate their power, it only removes the recipient from of the equation.

Fairness, respect, and love knock accompanied with expectations tell the respondent, “I’m storming your house, and here’s my list of deliverables due when you open the door.” Sounds like forcing compliance to me. And who wants to engage with anyone when they’re coming at you with a list of demands.

“Not I,” said the Clay.

There’s so much wrapped up in the Kaepernick situation. I’m convinced people will only be able to get to the heart of the matter when they’re willing to come to the table with the primary intent of listening (not just hearing) and not only to respond. And good dose of fairness, respect, and love thrown in might sweeten the pot.


Author, artist, accidental activist, founder Our Human Family (http://medium.com/our-human-family). Social media: @clayrivers. Love one another.

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