We were all saddened by the news of the death of Aretha Franklin, who was much more than a singer. She was a civil rights activist and a symbol of all that is good in America. In reading more about her life “off stage” one cannot help but have great respect for this lady. It is interesting to look at the definition of perhaps her most famous song. Respect is defined as having “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others” and can also be defined as consideration…attentiveness…thoughtfulness…politeness

I think respect does truly define what Aretha Franklin was about and it likely defines what America is about despite the turmoil present in today’s world. Respect is very much a part of what we think about when we talk of the human dignity of every living person. Respect is a word that is lacking in today’s world and especially in politics and government. While it is more evident and open in the Unites States, we are all vulnerable to allowing our leaders to conduct government business without due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights or traditions of others.

I believe having respect for others must also include the obligation to speak out about injustices in today’s world with an emphasis on poverty. We must also demonstrate our respect for the human dignity of all by striving to find ways to give those we seek to serve a voice, which is listened to and respected. Saint Vincent de Paul, Louise, Frederic and Rosalie all placed great value on their personal contact with those living in poverty and used this opportunity to meet Jesus as and use Him as their inspiration.

Aretha Franklin was also known as the Queen of Soul and as we remember her life, works and legacy, let us all keep in mind how her own soul was what guided her on her life journey. It was her soul that helped to place respect at the very top of her character. It is what best defines a person. May God bless Aretha, and may she rest in peace.

About the author:

Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.

 

 

Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


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