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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Respect: An Exploration is a collection of reflections centering around what society labels as respect. Clearly more than the sum of its parts, respect is seen as a verb, given and received only through human interactions. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a sociologist, writes with the clarity of a poet. Each facet of respect is preceded by a literary reference. Empowerment, healing, dialogue, curiosity, self-respect, and attention are explored as essential, and integrated, components of respectful relationships. This text is about connections and human relationships—about actions and silence, and the profound gift of presence. It celebrates the human spirit.

The author’s personal reflections add depth as she chronicles respectfulness through the life cycle. Empowerment is given substance in the birthing clinic run by Jennifer Dohrn, where women are honored and their choices respected. Pediatrician Dr. Johnye Ballenger’s work in a Boston clinic highlights healing. Empowerment allows healing. Healing fosters respect. Respect thrives on honest dialogue. Kay Cottle is a teacher shown building bridges with communication, celebrating diversity with both words and silence.

Photographer Dawoud Bey brings into focus the need to “see” beyond the obvious, feeding people’s natural curiosity and seeking the universal truth that unites art and life. In the person of Dr. David Wilkins, a highly distinguished law professor at Harvard, there is proof that self-respect must come, not from external measures, but from within. Only then can individuals relate respectfully to others. Finally, Bill Wallace offers moving insight into the value of attention and silent presence as they relate to respect and the dying. Respect comes full circle in our most vulnerable times. This text is a jewel.