by MIKE CHAIKEN
Darcy Castro has experienced firsthand the pain of being disrespected.
As the latest Elite National American Woman of Service, Castro is doing her part to bring more respect into the world, so others don’t have to go through what she and others have gone through.
“As a published writer,” said the Connecticut resident in an email interview, “I have been subject to some pretty reactionary, negative online commentary.”
“There was a time in particular when one of my op-ed pieces published in the Dallas Morning News seemed to strike a nerve with readers,” Castro explained.
“The article was based on my personal experience with divorce, and elicited several hurtful comments,” said Castro. “This was almost 10 years ago, and I am still shocked at the ability of strangers to type such hateful things veiled behind the anonymity of online commentary.”
To encourage a more civil world, Castro said she launched, “Cultivating Respect,” a year-long initiative she has undertaken as Elite National American Woman of Service.
For Castro, the concept of “respect” means “honoring the boundaries of others, caring for yourself in a healthy, loving way, and approaching the world through the lens of optimism rather than pessimism.”
Castro, the mother of two sons and two daughters, said, other than her personal experience, said respect is important because it’s “a common thread that runs through us all. Feeling heard and cared for is part of our innate desire for community.”
As part of her plan to cultivate respect, Castro said, “I think fostering respectful communities starts with ourselves. No matter the actions of others, it’s the actions of ourselves that we have control over. When we stop the cycle of disrespectful behavior, by not participating in it or reacting to it, we can create the positive space for respect to flourish.”
To this end, Castro intends to write monthly articles and produce podcasts to encourage people “to think critically about these concepts, and I invite them to consider practical tips to create respectful environments.”
As a mother, Castro tries to instill in her children “a desire to foster and cultivate respect within themselves and others.” If she can this, said Castro, “I will have achieved a critical goal as a parent.”
“As with other important aspects of parenting, the best way to affect the behavior of others is to be the change ourselves,” said Castro. So, she has made sure she walks the walk and talks the talk.
“I try my best to be an example to my children of treating myself and others with respect,” Castro. “I try to see others as brothers and sisters of humanity, and that we are all one within the same family.”
To those who argue respect must be earned, Castro replied, “In a sense, respect can be earned, but it has to start within our own hearts.”
Castro said, “We must first act respectfully, regardless of the provocation or circumstance, because it is our responsibility to be respectful to ourselves and one another if respect is to flourish throughout communities.”
Castro said she will know she has been successful in her mission ”If my readers and listeners are inspired to shift their personal paradigms, even a little, towards seeing others and themselves as worthy of greater respect, then that will organically grow by its effect on others.”
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN