Hearing the word "respect," one might be reminded of the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who never got any. But, in the real world, callous lack of respect contributes powerfully to inter-ethnic and inter-religious violence and death.
I recently received two e-mails that demonstrated how disrespect poisons relations between religions. An extremist Israeli rabbi described non-Jews as "donkeys" whose purpose is to serve Jews. A radical Islamic cleric in Syria characterized Jews as "pigs and monkeys." Then there is the fundamentalist preacher in Kansas who preaches that "God hates fags." These, of course, are flagrant examples of bigotry; but such contemptuous language has power, because these individuals have followers.
Disrespect and trash-talk have become far too common on the Internet, in some tragic cases leading to suicide by the youthful recipients of hate-filled missives. To paraphrase the proverb we learned as children, sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can break my spirit.