Those who have trained in traditional martial arts know that the martial way, specifically the way of karate-do, begins and ends with respect. Practically speaking, this is evident in our traditional bowing at the beginning and end of each class. We do this to show respect for those who came before us, for those who teach us, to those who are our seniors, and to one another. We literally show respect for everyone in the room at some point in our tradition.
In all honesty, when I bow, there's a mantra that goes through my mind and I've considered it for years now. Each time my head lowers, particularly now as an instructor, my thought is: "I have things to teach you and you have things to teach me." I'm not the greatest teacher in the world...I'll never claim to be close, BUT I do try to go into each class trying to learn from my students and I think this is helpful to all of us. This is respect for my students and their experience. My giving that respect, I think it builds the same feeling in those that I train with; I'll have to figure out how to ask about that.
I think of respect like a fire. When I'm in the dojo teaching, I have a torch (it begins as the natural respect from student to teacher) that I use to light the torches of my students. The powerful thing is this: even though I share respect for and with my students, my torch doesn't go out. My flame doesn't go down. By showing respect, we can only improve the lives and experiences of others.
Common courtesies are rooted in a respect (and love) for others. Holding doors, looking out for the young or weak, loving our elders...this is respect. What are some other ways that YOU can show respect for others today?