The concept of respetu in our culture


Our way of life, our language, our beliefs and experiences, respect for one another, and our unique customs (including the food we eat)—all of these together constitute our culture and tradition that make us a special people.

One of the most important traditions in our culture is the practice of respect or respetu, both in the way we live our lives and in the way we behave with one another. Our parents, our grandparents, and our forefathers taught us to always live with this guiding principle in mind. Through this benchmark of society, all aspect of our lives should naturally flow. Sadly, however, over the years since we started governing ourselves under our own constitution, this fundamental aspect of our culture has slowly and gradually been eroding. Unless we begin to reverse this erosion in our respect for one another, our culture would suffer greatly. It will be compromised, as we have already started seeing in the way we practice politics and in the way we behave toward each other. Unless we begin to put a check on this dangerous turn in our culture, one where we begin losing respect for one another, the practice we used to have—respect for each other when we were growing up as children in the ‘50s, ‘60’s and ‘70s—would be lost forever. And we would surely become a different people, without the lynchpin of our culture to hold us together.

They say that change is an inevitable part of life. And this is true. All living things change, or as the biologists would say, evolve. But there are some things in life that should always remain constant. Humanity’s guiding principle that we should live in peace and not destroy each other is one. The iconic scientist, Albert Einstein, once said that the three things in life that he cherished most and was always guided by were: beauty, kindness, and truth. If he were an islander, he would have added a fourth virtue: respect for one another. These basic principles of humanity, I believe, transcend space and time. I would urge everyone in the CNMI to please consider practicing, once again, our tradition of respect for one another. It will, I believe, go a long way toward enhancing once again the beauty of our island and the friendliness our people.

Jose S. Dela Cruz
Koblerville, Saipan

Contributing Author

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