Book Review: Respect: An Exploration by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot


It’s good to give, it’s good to get.  Respect: An Exploration (2000) by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot works at understanding this crucial aspect of human relationships through the stories of six people.  Each  of these messengers works in a field where respect is vital and represents a different qualities of respect:

  • Empowerment: Jennifer Dohrn, a nurse-midwife who founded and directs a childbearing clinic in the South Bronx.
  • Healing: Johnye Ballenger, a pediatrician.
  • Dialogue: Kay Cottle, a middle and high school teacher.
  • Curiosity: Dawoud Bey, a photographer/artist.
  • Self-Respect: David Wilkins, a law professor.
  • Attention: Bill Wallace, pastoral therapy to the dying in hospice.

Each portrait is part interview, part Lawrence-Lightfoot’s observations of that person at work, and part biography.  The case study method lends itself to a bit of cheesiness, but not too much, and not in a negative fashion.

I find it hard to summarize the book any further as it is through the interplay of these many factors where respect is teased out.  Read it yourself to find out.

Respect: An Exploration by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. Basic Books (2000), Edition: 1, Paperback, 256 pages

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