Saturday, March 12, 2005

Respect and Perspective

Two very interesting words.
They share an etymology: Both are based on the Latin "spec," to look.
Their prefixes give them distinct meanings, but what I find interesting is that neither term is typically used in ways that truly reflect the meaning provided by its prefix.
Respect, literally, means to look again, or to look back. That may be done in honor -- as the word generally is construed -- but is not necessary.
Perspective means looking through, or thoroughly. To do so requires a point of view, but a point of view is not perspective. One might say that a point of view is a necessary but not sufficient condition for perspective.
Looking back over my postings in this blog, I know that they often do not display either respect or perspective in those truest senses (or even in their more common senses).
They are often reflexive, rather than reflective. Another interesting case: Two words that share a Latin etymology (to bend again) but have come to be used in significantly different ways over time. The first has come over time to be associated with movement of the body, especially involuntary movement; the second with bending of light or thought. (if, like me, you are interested in the origin of words, you might check out the Online Etymology Dictionary.
To cite the most common example in this blog, I tend to react reflexively to George W. Bush. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with reflexive action. Our reflexes protect us, and I think my conditioning to find the words and actions of George W. Bush repugnant is a reflex that may indeed guard against being taken in by his misrepresentations of fact and intention.
Nor is there anything wrong with the perspective of left-wing politics. However, without effort to look through and thoroughly at an issue, that perspective may flatten and become as shallow as the one I am criticizing.
I'm not writing this to beat up on myself. Blogging has been an important exercise for me, one that has allowed me to redevelop the habit of writing. The fact that I write and post in my spare time is undoubtedly a good thing for my continued development of my intellect and for self-discipline.
That my thoughts have been flowing freely and are easily converted to words has been therapeutic for me, and may even have provided some entertainment or enlightenment for those who have stopped by here. At least that's what some have told me.
But I want my writing to be respectful and to have a fully exercised perspective, so that it has greater value both for myself and for those who stumble across it.
The fact that I have been travelling and attending meetings for several days (and have another week's worth ahead of me) has given me less time to write, but more time to reflect on those goals.
Respect and perspective in their truest etymological senses. I want to keep those concepts in mind, to bump up my writing to a higher level of seriousness.