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Respect when it’s hard: Why Christian values make the difference

Northwest Catholic takes its core values seriously. 

Faith
Respect
Diverse Community
Leadership & Service
Education of the Whole Person

This essential list guides us in a myriad of ways, reminding us what to value, where to focus, how to problem solve, when to stand up, when to stand down, and why the Northwest Catholic community has come together with a singular mission. More simply, this list tells us how to think and act, and interact.

Respect is a guiding light for us at Northwest Catholic. The hello in the hallway, an offer to walk through the door first, a gesture inviting someone to cut in line, the “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” — all are simple expressions of respect. This is respect when respect is easy, and we’ve nailed it.

But what about when respect is hard?

Upon first blush, respect seems simple. We covered it in kindergarten. But respect isn’t always simple, and it’s certainly not always easy. Respect requires our constant attention. We must always be asking ourselves difficult questions: Am I being respectful? How do I approach this person, this issue, this argument with respect? And we must always be challenging ourselves to think more clearly, speak more kindly, evaluate ourselves more honestly, and treat one another with respect, especially when we’d rather not.

“At Northwest we all respect each other.” 

Our students, teachers, parents, alumni, and friends make this claim, and we think it’s true — almost always. At a Catholic school with a whole community committed to Christian values, showing respect is expected. Scripture doesn’t shortchange the topic of respect either, and we return to the messages daily. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12) “Love one another with brotherly affection” (Roman 12:10). “Honor everyone” (Peter 2:17). “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of the old man” (Leviticus 19:32). And the imperative: “Be at peace among yourselves” (Thessalonians 5:12-13). 

Our Catholic school community reminds one another to show respect. To Everyone. All the time. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard.

These turbulent months are testing everyone’s commitment to respect, ours included. A pandemic that frightens, limits, and exhausts us; a hard look at our history of systemic racism and white privilege; an election season more divisive than any other in our lifetime: many school leaders will talk of these colliding factors. 

But at Northwest Catholic we are not bracing for a collision. 

We’re not folding forward, arms clenched, steeling ourselves for impact. We’re doing the opposite. We’re standing tall, arms open, and preparing ourselves in mind, body, spirit, and imagination for the essential, deliberate, daily work of respect. We must. It’s who we are. And if we don’t prepare and lead with respect, we fail our mission, and that’s not an option.

When school resumes this fall, our Christian values won't eliminate the tensions brought on by a country in turmoil, but they will ease them, and that is an important start.

At Northwest Catholic our first core value is respect. Surely we’ll call on it when we reconnect, bringing our unique lived experiences and varied perspectives. Surely it won’t always be easy. But if we are committed to be at peace among ourselves, and we are, we’re sure to have an easier go of it.