Love can be a One-Way Street, but not Respect.
There was once an old man who lived in a cottage on the outskirts of town.
And let me tell you, the old man was a bastard.
He worked his way into a wheelchair by neglecting his health, and demanded everything of everyone. Most of all his son, who came by everyday to bring his elderly father fish and bread.
And almost everyday the old man would have something negative to say.
“You were supposed to bring me rye, not plain”
“You were supposed to bring salmon, not tuna”.
“You’re not looking well boy. You’re looking unhealthy, overweight and sluggish. Doesn’t that wife feed you?”
“You’re not strong boy. You let everyone else walk all over you!”
He never, not once, said ‘thank you’. He never, not once, said ‘I love you’.
And he would call on his son night and day.
He would call his son night and day for the smallest and most trivial of things. And always, the son would run to his elderly father’s beck and call.
“It’s an emergency” the old man would plead.
“Fine, I’m on my way” the son would reply.
The toilet was loud. The blinds were not fixed right. The tap was leaking a bit. The neighbour’s dog was keeping him up at night. Emergencies.
The old man had no one else who would put up with his bastardness.
So the son’s wife would complain, but the son would defend and fight back “You don’t understand!” he would say “Dad has no one else!” to which she would reply…
“For good reason”.
So the son grew old and bitter…
The old man died, the son grew old and grew apart from his wife. He took his father’s place in the old cottage on the outskirts of town. With the wife not returning his calls, he started to call on his own son, the grandson, to come to his beck and call.
“Bring me fish and bread” he would say.
And the grandson would bring fish and bread to the son, just as the son had done for his own father in his time.
But when he would call night and day for the smallest of things, or stir trouble in the grandson’s marriage, he talked back.
He stood up for himself. He kept his boundaries.
“You don’t love me, you don’t love your own father! Shame on me for raising such a disobedient child!” the son said to the grandson.
But the grandson simply replied
“Dad, I will always love you. I love you unconditionally which means I love you no matter what you do. I love you if you shout at me, tell me I’m worthless, tell me I’m broken, no good, and not worth calling a son. If you disowned me and pretended I never existed, I would still love you”.
The son was quiet. The grandson went on…
“I will always love you even when you don’t love me. And I will always love you, even when you don’t love yourself. Because love is a one-way street. Love does not have the expectation that something will return back down the road. Love is not exchanged for favours or bargained over, and it can exist without reciprocation.
I have nothing to gain by failing to love you, and everything to lose. No matter what you do to me, I will always be there for you, my father, in a crisis”.
But he went on.
“But I do not respect you. I do not respect you because you do not respect me. You don’t respect my boundaries, my time or my love for you.
Unlike love, respect is a two-way street. It IS conditional. It requires reciprocation. Something cannot be sent up the road forever if nothing returns back down.
Because you do not respect me, you do not get given my time before the others in my life who are more deserving of my respect.
Most of all, I cannot respect someone who has never respected themselves. You were there for your father, as I am always there for you, but you had no boundaries. You let him walk all over you and treat you like cattle, like a slave. You were a slave to his approval, having craved it all your life.
Without realising it, you always showed your father that you did not respect yourself. And so he figured, I will not respect you either.”
And the grandson finished with…
“Love is a one-way street, I give it to everyone I meet, unconditionally. But I respect only the few people who earn and deserve my respect.
Respect is a two-way street. I do not try to win the love of everyone I meet nor demand they love me… I only need a few to love me. But I try to win the respect of as many people as possible, I try to win and deserve their respect – never their approval”.
Love many, respect a few. Earn the respect of many, but be loved by a few.
By Joe Wehbe.
Today, remember to love everyone by opening doors for them, even if they don’t open doors for you in return.
It will still be true that the best way to open doors for yourself is to open doors for others.