“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.” – Laurence Sterne
In these days of stress, information highway, and cellular phones, respect seems to be completely ignored.
If you have a scheduled meeting at 9 in the morning, you arrive early but others come late. Today’s youngsters never pay attention to their parents anymore. In a bus, nobody offers a seat for the old folks.
There are two types of respect. The first one is a “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.” If a person’s belief prohibits him from eating pork or drinking alcohol, that someone offering it should not insist.
The second is about “a feeling of admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” This happens when someone is being bestowed a coveted award and everyone stand and clap their hands for ovation.
As someone puts it: “Respect is a way of treating or thinking about something or someone. If you respect your teacher, you admire her and treat her well. People respect others who are impressive for any reason, such as being in authority – like a teacher or cop – or being older – like a grandparent.”
Even if someone is not superior to you or someone who is lesser than you in life, you still have to show some respect to that person. Listen to what the famed Albert Einstein said: “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”
There are people who show respect only if you respect him in the first place. In a graduation speech, Dr. Robert Michaels pointed this out, “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.”
If you want others to respect you, you have to respect yourself first. “Respect yourself and others will respect you,” Confucius reminded. Or as Fyodor Dostoyevsky elucidated in The Insulted and Humiliated: “If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.”
“You will never gain anyone’s approval by begging for it,” writes Mandy Hale in The Single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass. “When you stand confident in your own worth, respect follows.”
Here’s a story from freestoriesforkids.com which gives a lesson why respect is a necessity:
Once upon a time, the King’s two princes were playing in a forest and – meeting one at a time – they came across four dwarves who asked to be more careful.
The first dwarf had a headache and he asked them not to shout. The second dwarf was painting a landscape, and he asked the children to move away because they were blocking out the light. The third dwarf was doing a giant jigsaw puzzle in the middle of the road, and he asked the children not to tread on it. The fourth dwarf was watching a butterfly and he asked them not to frighten it away.
The first prince who respected others did as what the dwarves asked, but the second prince who disrespect anyone ignored the dwarves’ pleas, and kept bothering them. In the evening, both boys had become separated and lost. They needed to get back to the palace quickly.
Each of them separately came across the four dwarves again, and asked for their help. They refused to help the disrespectful prince, but with the respectful prince they did whatever they could to help, and took him along some secret tracks which led right to the palace.
The second prince arrived much later, and was punished for it. He now understood that it’s much better to respect everyone if you want to have friends.
The Holy Bible has presented several passages on respect. In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul was talking about respect between masters and slaves: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.
“And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him.”
Romans 13:1 highlights the importance of respecting people in authority: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist has been established by God.”
Wm. Paul Young in The Shack explains: “Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect.”
Respect begets respect. Once it is lost, it is lost forever. In Fools, Martyrs, Traitors: The Story of Martyrdom in the Western World, Mahatma Gandhi was quoted: “I cannot conceive of a greater loss than the loss of one’s self-respect.”
Respect is for people who show it and for people who receive it.
Oftentimes, both have to show it in order for the other person to receive it. “When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are,” says Thomas S. Monson, an American religious leader and author. “When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they will become what they should be.”