Recommit to showing respect for other individuals

It is despicable and so sad. Such a loss of respect defies definition and undermines our basic humanity. I am talking about the invasion of privacy inflicted upon the Rutgers University freshman – I omit his name out of respect for him and his family even though it is well known in the press – by posting a video of a private encounter as mass entertainment.

While the prosecutor will decide the ultimate charges with the possibility of an added hate crime charge, we should all be asking the question, “What have we come to?”

Why is the idea of such an outrageous act against another person something that even occurs? To be a bully? To show up a fellow human being as someone to fear, hate, trash or humiliate? Would the perpetrators of such a vicious act want that done to them? Would they want to be publicly humiliated?

Beyond the invasion of privacy are the basic human relations issues missing from so many segments of our society these days – respect for each person regardless of sexual orientation, religion, gender, race, citizenship status, ability status, etc.

In New Jersey and nationwide, we are at risk of losing our “center” – respect for each person and the values that hold us together as a civil society.

Rutgers University has embarked on its Project Civility, and that is a good thing.

When we at the American Conference on Diversity work with students in New Jersey high schools and colleges, our key focus is to reinforce the value of each person, respect for each person, and awareness of the destructive impact of hate, prejudice and, yes, disrespect.

Let us learn a lesson from this tragic and incomprehensible loss and rededicate ourselves to working to rise above our differences and be the best that we can be as people, as co-workers, as neighbors, as fellow students and friends. Foster respect at home, in our schools, in our workplaces and communities.

Each of us can make a positive difference if we try. It all begins with respect.

Diane Schwartz

President and CEO American Conference on Diversity

New Brunswick