Opening Words from Sun. February 9 by Ray Preston

Playing: The Beatles “All You Need is Love.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I like this song. I really like this song.

I like John, Paul, George & Ringo.

I’m the youngest of four kids.  Born in 1958.

That means my musical tastes were shaped by my older brother and two older sisters.

Back in the day “streaming music” was called “a 45”

They had a stack of 45’s that we would put on a record player and they had several Beatles songs.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about–you would take the 45’s and literally stack them up on a portable record player.  The record would fall down and grind itself against the record beneath it.

Snap, crackle and pop was not just how we ate our breakfast cereal, it was also how we listened to our music.

But back to the song.

Listen to the lyrics.

“All you need is love.”

To those who believe that rock ‘n roll is a higher power it may be blasphemy but I’m going to suggest….the Beatles got it wrong.  Or perhaps they were…misguided?

But it’s not just John Lennon & Paul McCartney.  I’m talking about the poets, the writers, the authors stretching over generations.

We’ve been told again and again that we must love each other.

There are yard signs around the St. Louis area that say “We must stop killing each other.”  The same group behind this has come up with an updated sign that says “We must start loving each other.”

But if I don’t love everybody have I failed as a human being?

How high are you setting the bar when you tell people that they have to love each other?  It’s way up here.

I’ve worked as a journalist for 34 years.

I crunched the numbers and figured during that time I’ve covered anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 stories.

I’ve interviewed convicted murderers. 

Grandmas and gang members.

Priests, politicians, pundits and pornographers.

Perpetrators and victims. 

Demonstrators on the streets of Ferguson in north St. Louis County…or on the streets of downtown St. Louis.

People who are doing wonderful things in the world.

People who are doing terrible things in the world.

I’ll be honest with you.

I don’t love them.

But there is one common thread that I’ve found throughout nearly every interview I’ve done.  Talk with someone long enough and a word comes up in conversation.  That word is “respect.”

I would venture to say that many people don’t want you to love them. They want you to respect them.  They believe that if they are not hurting others and they are consenting adults they want you to respect their right to love who they want to love, marry who they want to marry, espouse their beliefs, respect their rights that have been granted under the 1st Amendment to the Constitution to gather on the streets and let their voices be heard.

Remember how high the bar was set when we are told we have to love each other?

But where is the bar set when all we have to do is respect each other?

I would say it’s not nearly as high as asking me to love everyone.

I don’t want people to love me.  But I do want them to respect me.  I want them to respect what I believe should be my right to be who I want to be and believe in what I want to believe in. 

Right now I’m guessing some of you are thinking– not everyone missed the mark on this issue.

Playing: Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”

Just a thought.

Thank you for listening.

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.