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Published: Thursday 31st of October 2013
Respect is a complex and debatable notion. Just like any other abstract concept, it is hard to define and can be interpreted from different perspectives. Most people would agree that is relatively easy to earn someone’s respect. At the same time, gaining respect from other, highly respected people, is seen as something challenging, something that requires hard work and determination. The following paper will try to analyze different approaches to the very notion of respect, as well as the reasons why certain people strive for it, and others – ignore it completely.
Certain people are willing to get out of their comfort zone, to do crazy or even dangerous things to get respect from the ones around them. Unfortunately, this kind of respect never lasts long because it always needs re-confirmation – that is, constantly doing other things to keep the respect at the same level. As it is well known, there are people willing to go through a lot of trouble to earn respect. Despite all that, the best way to earn respect is to be considerate and appreciative at your own turn and make this part of a person’s behavior. It is certainly not a material thing, a trophy that you give to somebody when one made something worthy of respect. Among the things that people are willing to do to earn respect, there is even dying, going through pain or suffering. We can see it as a common practice within clans or bands – they put their followers through a whole bunch of self-inflicted injury just to prove themselves and earn their respect. People should be respected for exactly what they are and for what they naturally have to offer; if the situation arises and a person does not respect you for your true self, no attempt should be made into gaining their attention and/or respect. Another aspect of respect lies within religion – some people consider it as a given and try to earn it and ask it from others just because religion says so. As it is preached in the Bible, all people need is to love the ones around them and to do it unconditionally, without expecting anything back.
On the other hand, certain people do not make any particular efforts to earn respect. They are just behaving naturally, and if respect is given, it only happens because of their common and normal attitude and not because of some outstanding acts. Even though this would be the best and the “cleanest” way to earn respect, often enough, other people condemn this type of behavior. Not trying to earn the society’s respect is sometimes seen as a careless act, which is qualified as a lack of taste or morals. At the same time, certain people are overly dependent on the social approval, especially from a certain social class – regardless whether the class in question is more or less ‘fortunate.’ People seeking validation from a particular class are driven into acting recklessly and committing acts with grave consequences. This behavior develops since the age of adolescence and comes together with an illegal and violent attitude towards society and family. It is a common psychological reaction to keep your principles at the lowest level, as long as it meets the requirements of the group you want respect from. The environment that encourages this type of conduct is a very negative one, but for the one trying to earn their respect, it seems to be the source of validation. In this case, the big problem is that this is not actual respect; it is only an illusion because “behind the scenes,” these so-called friends deceive you and replace you with some other in an instant, as this is their innate quality. Within the limits of any group, personal actions are associated with misleading respect for those around them.
On a personal note and in a common manner, respect is offering your support to somebody. This often implies going to someone and asking for their help; the next step would be listening to their problems, intentions or beliefs and daring to step up when the situation assumes it. The superstar appreciation is not actually respect; it is more like a belief that a person could be indestructible. Respect is treating that person like a normal human being, treating him as a friend and giving him all the importance and attention that a friend would need. It is about understanding one another, about leaving behind what went wrong and forgiving each other’s mistakes. When respect is granted as a consequence of someone putting oneself in a compromising or uncomfortable situation, that is not a true form of respect, and it will not last over time. More often, one can compare respect to affection, which should be unlimited, with no time boundaries and once respect is in someone’s heart, it will always be there. This is how respect should feel like.
From the range of feelings, many of them can be suppressed, lost with time, diminished, but the bit of affection we feel for somebody, as well as respect for that person, will never vanish away. Even though respect is often paired with trust, they are not the same and are not even dependent on each other. Such as love and God, respect will never fade away. Going deeper into this subject, we should see respect to an upper level. It is not only about the respect you get from somebody, nor the one you grant others; it is about seeing respect as a mindset, as an attitude.
It is also true that the respect can be broken. As people go through life, their personality and, consequently, behavior can change. These changes may lead us to disrespect people we’ve trusted and respected before. Interestingly, the changes can happen to us, to the respected person in question, or to both. Any of these case scenarios can damage the previously earned respect. The situation is not uncommon and can be seen as a natural course of life and personality development.
All in all, the position of respect is more of a selfless act: it implies giving the best of you without expecting anything from others. It is like putting the best part of you out there to earn respect. Above all, this is a choice, but also state that comes naturally, binding flawlessly with all the distinct particularities of an individual. It all comes back to the innate behavior of a person, to their capacity of adapting to the environment and acting humanly without asking sacrifices from others in order to respect them or, the other way around, renounce to the personal beliefs and even the family to earn other’s respect. Even though the people we respect may come and go, the whole concept of respect is a selfless one.
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