Respect

Posted on Facebook January 11, 2017

Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes has really affected a lot of people. What is your reaction to it? I respect her and the speech greatly. Eloquently speaking your truth is a skill that most of us need to learn. Her quote, “Disrespect invites disrespect […]” started some interesting reflection for me.

The Oxford Dictionary defines respect as:

A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements

Due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others

Respect is interesting. As a child we are taught to respect others, elders, teachers and such. What role does respect have in modern culture? In current American culture it is not very apparent. It seems normal now to demean and degrade anyone whose opinion is different than ours. And, it is becoming normal to not just disrespect others of varying opinion but also to hate them, and even to try to ruin them.

Disrespect is not a new phenomenon; it has been going on for ages. This is how many religions and governments have ruled and continue to rule. It is not surprising that it exists. What is surprising is that we pretend that respect is a part of our culture. I would love to live in a respectful culture. I am just not sure one exists, at least not on a large scale.

Respect is a two-way street. If you ask a well-loved teacher why their students respect them, the most common answer is because the teacher respects the students.

Respect needs to be earned. If a person must demand respect they probably aren’t earning it. I have great respect for many people and I have no respect for other people. A person gains my respect by living in integrity and respecting that I am living in integrity. Both of these points are important. Basically, they have to have something to respect and they need to be respectful of others, including me.

Respect has nothing to do with agreement or sharing similar beliefs. It has to do with honoring the other person and honoring that they came to their thoughts and beliefs through integrity.

If you are judging me then you are not respecting me, and therefore I cannot respect you. For example, I have had more than a few devoutly religious people share their religious beliefs with me very loudly and vehemently. When I try to speak of my spiritual beliefs, I am told I am wrong and they refuse to listen. How can respect exist in this? If a person wants to be respected, they must respect others.

Respecting someone merely because of a position that they hold is ludicrous. Being told I must do so by a group of people for whom I have no respect is even more ludicrous. Respect is an individual thing; honor it by using it wisely. If you are being told whom to respect then you need to question why they are telling you this. Why are they manipulating you? Granting respect to anyone or anything that has not earned it is not being respectful of yourself.

Are you a respectful person? How is your level of integrity? Do you let it slide when it is advantageous for you? Do you see how others are living in their own integrity? Can you see the integrity in a person that is different than you or that is in a different situation than you?

Do you respect others? Do you wonder why someone does not respect your lifestyle, religion or political beliefs while you are judging theirs? Do you hold others up to levels of integrity that you do not keep yourself?

Respect of ourselves takes a lot of work. Are you willing to do it?

How do we create a respectful community? Just as “disrespect invites disrespect”, respect invites respect. When we become respectful of ourselves we can see the respect that others deserve.

Standing in integrity and respect is often talked about, but rarely modeled. I have the people I respect and you may not have the same ones. I respect that. Who I respect changes all of the time. Who are your models of respect? Is the respect still there if you scrutinize a bit? Allow the respect to be true.

The world is constantly changing. If you want a world where respect is the norm then allow it to be in yourself and encourage it to grow in others. One thing I have learned in my travels is that the culture of a country and its government are not always the same thing. So let’s create a culture of respect. Eloquently say your truth in explaining why you do or do not respect someone. Honor respect by only giving it to those that deserve it.