Respect Is Like Money: Some Ask For It and Others Earn It
Respect is a universal value that everyone should practice without conditions. However, there are those who impose it without considering others; claiming a right that knows no proximity or empathy. Because respect is the absence of exploitation and if one is not able to offer it then they should not demand it.
The etymology of words always teaches us wise things. In this case, if we delve into the roots of the word “respect” we find “respectus” derived from “specere” which means to look, review and above all “have the wisdom to see something in its essence or individuality“.
Without respect all is lost: love, honesty, integrity….Few values are as essential as knowing how to respect each other with our differences and particularities.
We’ve all experienced that moment when we have not been respected in some way. Injustices are carried out in all areas: family, school, work, relationships… It is necessary to reflect a little more on this term because as Kant once said, “With respect, dignity is developed for oneself and for those around us.”
Respect always begins at home
Respect always starts with oneself because the higher our level of self-esteem, the more we respect others. It may seem obvious, we know, but not because the things we do are always logical as in this case. The ability to respect ourselves fully and authentically means being able to develop the following aspects:
- Having a positive attitude towards ourselves by reaffirming our personal worth and also knowing how to balance our values and needs.
- Respect for oneself is knowing that we are entitled to be happy, to defend ourselves against injustices to have our own space and a voice to make ourselves heard.
- It is also necessary to feel worthy of everything we achieve, strengthen our self-esteem and, in turn, be responsible for every win, every choice made and even every mistake.
If we understand and internalize each of these aspects, we will be aware that those who we have before us are also deserving of the same things. Because whoever is unable to respect oneself, will not feel anything when it comes to hurting others.
Disrespect is the inability to “walk in someone else’s shoes”
Erich Fromm dealt fully with the topic of respect in his book The Art of Love. For the famous philosopher, humanist and psychoanalyst, this term could never go along with fear or imposition. If we respect someone we shouldn’t do it out of fear or subjugation which sometimes happens in some parent-child relationships or even in relationships.
Respect cannot be bought or sold or given away: respect is earned.
Respect should actually be an attitude practiced from admiration: “I respect you because I admire the way you are, because I am close to you and empathize with your person.” Obviously, we know this is not always true, and often must deal with this type of behavior.
Some people think they have been crowned with the best values, the best skills, and therefore demand an almost reverential respect, minimizing the rights of others.
One who does not respect oneself, who lacks initiative, self-esteem, needs others to show them respect to have power, to feed their ego for their own shortcomings. They are very destructive behaviors.
Respect is, above all, accepting others as they are while being sensitive to their needs. If the person lacks empathy and is unable to “put on other people’s shoes” it will be impossible to produce that closeness; that act of humility and tolerance.
Practicing respect is not difficult and does a lot
Respecting others is the noblest intrinsic value that we can practice in our day to day lives. However, as we noted above, we must never offer it through subjugation or have it imposed on us. Any sincere act must come from the freedom of the heart itself, never from fear.
Respect is tolerating thoughts different than our own. It is accepting that there are other ways of understanding the world and all of them are equally legitimate. If we do not tolerate our children having their own voice and their own initiatives, we will be prohibiting their personal growth, and consequently, we will be acting disrespectfully towards them.
In turn, the couple that feeds on the roots of equality, honesty and complicity of the little things builds healthy relationships and above all happy ones. There is respect because there is harmony; the same thing we must deposit in every person who enters or passes through our life. This is also true for each animal and for nature itself.
Because respect is the essence of nobility, that gift that should always define the human being…
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Images courtesy Claudia Tremblay