Marcus Gentry, Dr. Respect
The subject of respect, especially in urban communities is very often a topic of discussion, a matter of contention and one of the most volatile issues that arises in homes, schools and on the streets. One of the greatest misunderstandings held by many is the belief that to respect someone means to obey them. After completing some very basic research, we discover that obeying is not actually what respect means at all. According to Webster’s Dictionary, third definition, “respect” means: to esteem for a sense of the worth or excellence of a person… To esteem or hold in high regard.
One other major element missing, especially in urban communities, is the enlightenment of our youth from three separate sources concerning their education and overall wellness. This means, the philosophy or message we want our youth to embrace has to also be delivered from the place where their basic survival needs are being supplied. We would like to think that is their home and family but history teaches us that may not necessarily be the case. So our instructions must be individualized. Alignment and consistency of messages must include the parent/guardian, educators and ultimately the community. These three sources must align for the highest good and enrichment of our children. Obviously history demonstrates time and again that because of our resilient nature, we can learn to survive and thrive in less than ideal environments. This chapter describes what we can do to create an environment more conducive for growth.
More often than not, minorities live in urban, and many times, impoverished areas. These groups will often erroneously look to the majority culture to give them the respect they deserve and provide them what they need for their growth, development and wellness. Many who look to others for respect are also seeking acceptance.
Those in urban communities in particular base their worth not on self-acceptance but on whether they are accepted by the majority culture. This causes them to constantly adjust the appearance of who they are in order to blend in through acculturation, which pushes them further away from their true identity, often resulting in developing underlying disdain for their true self and anyone who resembles them. This adds to their common subconscious feelings of not being good enough, and therefore not deserving of self-respect. The only exception to this condition is those who have learned to develop self-respect through deep appreciation for their own and others’ unique individuality.
The ten dominant principles in the Philosophy of Respect
The ten dominant principles emphasize the importance of developing self-respect, personal responsibility and self-discipline first, before respect can be given to others.
Principle One – Respect
Principle One includes respect for self, respect for others and respect for the environment. Respect in these three areas in particular is essential to the healthy development of an individual, family, community and a nation.
Principle Two – Discipline
We must execute self-discipline, by training ourselves to accomplish our goals. This principle parallels with the second principle of Kwanzaa’s Nguzo Saba, kujichagulia or self-determination (Karenga, 2014).
Principle Three – Responsibility
Individuals should learn at an early age that each person is responsible for his or her own well-being and happiness, personal growth and lastly, personal safety. Let’s begin with our well-being and happiness. When a person depends on someone else or someone else’s decisions for their happiness, they become enslaved to that person’s whims or fancies and will lose track of their own abilities to be creative in finding the passions of their heart. A very effective method of finding one’s own happiness is to simply explore possibilities, experiment with those possibilities and then, evaluate their impact in one’s life. This process can be repeated for an entire lifetime.
Principle Four – Remembrance
We must first remember who we were, what foundation we now stand on and the force that is presently within us. Let’s begin by getting to know who we were. If you were asked the question, “Who were you before you were given your name,” what would your answer be? I propose through reflection and observation, in the beginning you were a unique marvel of creation—the essence of Respect. You were present and operated in the here and now. You were curious and courageous. You were filled with undeveloped and unleashed potential. You were resilient and relentless in going after what was important to you, and you were teachable. All of those qualities that you possessed in the beginning are still in your pure authentic core. Once people remember or regain their identities, they will be able to more successfully manage their transitions through life. This is particularly missing or distorted in our urban communities, therefore there is no fertile ground for our youth to prosper and flourish with clarity concerning their identity.
Principle Five – Elevation
According to the writings of Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living” (Plato, 38 ad). That quote has been used and expanded upon for centuries. I refer to that quote in this principle because time needs to be allotted in an individual’s life to elevate their understanding of themselves, examine the beliefs that produce their thoughts and finally, their behaviors concerning family, relationships, finances, health and other areas of importance in their life. People will often say things such as, “I don’t know why I did or said that,” “That wasn’t me” or “I can’t help the way I think and operate; that’s just who I am,” as if we are robots. Although we are not robots, we can definitely act in a robotic fashion by repeating the same behaviors over and over again as if we have been pre-programmed. The truth is we have been programmed! However, we have the ability to re-program ourselves for the life we want to live, but as stated in the book, The Answer to How is Yes (Block, 2002), we must first be willing to say yes to three critical questions paraphrased here:
Do you have a burning desire to look at and adjust your beliefs if they prove to be barriers to your advancement?
Are you willing to make a plan and follow it? (A passionate desire without a proper plan is a roadmap for failure.)
Are you willing to put in the necessary work to accomplish your goal?
Principle Six – Strategize
This principle expands on the statement that was made in Principle Five about needing to make a proper plan in all areas of our life in which we expect to attain success: Relationships, Personal Resiliency, and The Unexpected. We will all eventually, and perhaps suddenly, experience.
Principle Seven – Pursuit of Your Passion
Many, particularly in urban areas, are unable to identify what passions to pursue because of their confusion between purpose and passion, along with their prior pre-conditioning. Many are taught that passion is a luxury to be enjoyed only after you get off work, when you retire or possibly while on a vacation, which in most cases, is only one month out of twelve maximum. Let us examine on way of looking at purpose. It appears that your purpose was installed into your DNA from the beginning and will be fulfilled effortlessly, as is true with all forms of life on this planet. In fact, the three-part purpose of all life in existence is exactly the same:
Part 1) Evolve to the highest form it is capable of during its existence/journey through this life, based on its genetic makeup and exposure to its environment.
Part 2) Expand through reproduction, physically, intellectually and materially through acquisition and accumulation.
Part 3) Transform, constantly adapting to the environment until expiring from physical existence and through physical expiration thereby feeding life to the next form of life waiting for an opportunity of expression.
Principle Eight – Encouragement
Wherever we are in our journey through life, regardless of age and although we are pursuing our area(s) of passion, we will experience losses, frustrations, setbacks and disappointments, as does everyone else. Although we are responsible for our own happiness and well-being, encouragement is of tremendous value for those seeking success in making it through a difficult period. A common term used by many twelve-step programs is, “One day at a time” but sometimes a day is a very long time. We may need help to make it through the next five minutes.
Principle Nine – Creation
Instead of waiting for the window of opportunity to open or opportunity to knock on your door, the higher level of operation is to create opportunities for success. In order to do this, you must first define in very specific detail what your success looks like. Steven Covey (2003, pp. 40-51) speaks of this in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His 2nd habit is: Begin with the end in mind. After determining the end game, break that detailed image into small “bite size” steps beginning from where you are now to where you want to be at the end.
Principle Ten – Teaching
In his book, Book of Secrets (2004, p. 10), Deepak Chopra speaks of there being no generation gap inside our bodies as far as the cells are concerned. The older cells pass on knowledge to the newer cells and the newer cells are receptive to that knowledge, creating constant development in our bodies without having to restart every time a new cell arrives. If we return to who we were first at infancy and reflect on our internal intelligence, we will remain teachable. Think of the brain of an infant or child and their ability to learn multiple things including languages at that tender age. It is amazing. One of the things allowing those capabilities to operate is the realization that other people know more than they do, so they are humble, willing and able to receive the needed information. Once the brain believes it knows all it needs to know on a topic it shuts down, no longer looking for information.
Ayn Rand (1957) states in Atlas Shrugged that if youidentify the dominant philosophy of a society you can predict its future.This statement holds just as true for each individual comprising that society. As shared in this chapter on the urban aspects of the January Model, I recommend the Philosophy of Respect as a valuable tool for enhancing respect for self, others and the environment. These ten dominant principles woven into the schools’ fabric will provide an education that motivates individuals to feed, clothe, shelter and protect not only themselves, it will also nurture their own healthy personal power and potential. From this healthy families are created and upon the solid foundation of the individual and family the healthy and thriving community is created, developed, and sustained. And a better village raises better everything.
Marcus Gentry, also known as Dr. Respect, is an internationally respected lecturer, freelance writer and Transition Strategist who because of his experience as a professional actor and vocalist creates learning environments that leads his audiences to a conscious awakening through Socratic reasoning.
Since arriving in Chicago in 1976, Marcus Gentry has developed a longstanding reputation for effectively working with challenging youth in the inner city as well as many of the surrounding suburbs. His experience includes, but is not limited to, working in a locked facility for violently aggressive adolescents, several alternative schools where he created groups called SADA (students against drug abuse), program development and implementation for youth in CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) and the HACC (Housing Authority County of Cook). Mr. Gentry continues to operate as a consultant and mentor for youth training and leadership programs nationwide.
Marcus Gentry is the founder of A Mastermind Creation – a service organization that uses creative empowerment strategies while teaching the application of universal principles. Marcus travels extensively, taking his messages of empowerment and respect as a global initiative around the world through keynotes, workshops and interviews.
Dr. Respect’s latest project is the completion of his forthcoming book “The Way of Respect” scheduled for release in the summer of 2014.
To find out more about Marcus “Dr. Respect” Gentry and his messages of awakening and