Published: Good Men Project (June 11, 2015)
Can a little respect make a difference? The Respectful Revolution believes it makes all the difference.
The term “respectful revolution” may sound like a contradiction, but the site is quite real indeed … and it is already making waves.
“I’ve always resented meanness and wastefulness a great deal,” explained Gerard Ungerman in an interview with The Good Men Project. “I’ve witnessed a lot of that in the military, then covering wars around the world during a decade of doc filmmaking.” As a way of countering this, Ungerman joined Stacey Wear to create Respectful Revolution, which captures short video portraits of people causing positive change from around the world.
The inspiring anecdotes are refreshing antidotes to the cynicism and brutality we regularly see in the news. There is Jurgen Knoller, a German brewmaster in Montana who has found a way to reuse glass bottles, six-pack packaging, and cardboard boxes. Another Montanan, Joshua Slotnick, earned attention by creating an organic farm where troubled teenagers could cultivate local produce … and then sell it to senior citizens for one-third of the normal price. Ron Sciarrillo of New Mexico is described on Respectful Revolution as “the opposite of someone who drags their feet to go to work”—he literally teaches people how to build “Earthships,” or homes that are environmentally friendly.
“We look for stories that have love for the world built in them and that preferably convey a sense that whatever it is that we’re showing can be replicated,” Gerard explained. “We are always delving into the humanity of the person(s) involved to make them more personable, whether or not they have charisma because ultimately we want people to love people who love people.”
Ungerman told The Good Men Project: ‘To us, respect means understanding and caring about the consequences of your actions, and choosing to act with the bigger picture in mind: what’s in it for everybody and the world around me, because if I saw off the branch I’m sitting on, well …’
There is more to the Respectful Revolution than simply documenting positive change. Coiling beneath the various narratives – which you can explore geographically by clicking on an interactive map – is a deeper philosophy about the role of empathy in taking humanity to the next of its collective evolutionary consciousness. “We use the word respect because it is universal,” Ungerman told The Good Men Project. “To us, respect means understanding and caring about the consequences of your actions, and choosing to act with the bigger picture in mind: what’s in it for everybody and the world around me, because if I saw off the branch I’m sitting on, well…” And why does he refer to his campaign to spread respect as a revolution? “Revolution is a powerful word that’s part of the collective psyche of this country in particular. The true good word in there is evolution but I feel revolution carries more guts, for a title anyway.”
For Ungerman, the stories that most resonate with him personally are the ones that involve curbing wastefulness, which is why he specifically identified Sciarillo and Rosemary Kent, who created a task force in her hometown to collect and recycle people’s plastic. “Wastefulness to me is a mortal sin, an insult to life itself because nothing comes easy, even if it seems easy,” he argued. “A fruit off a tree? It is a freakin’ miracle! Why should that fruit go to waste ? Have a bird eat it if nothing else. So I love stories where people have taken action against wastefulness.”
Ungerman had much more to say in our interview, but in the end the stories captured at Respectful Revolution—which you can support through their Kickstarter campaign-–speak for themselves. They carry a number of messages about creating a sustainable future for our planet, exhibiting empathy toward others, and simply embracing life to its fullest. These topics may not be trendy, but they’re important, and we’re lucky to live in a world where a Respectful Revolution exists.