Respect. It’s an odd word.
There’s so many people using it and sometimes I wonder if they know what it means. Hell, sometimes I don’t even know what it means, and I’m a writer. I should know what words mean… but sometimes the English Language stumps me and I have to turn to the old faithful, the dictionary.
Definition of respect
- 1) [mass noun] a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements:the director had a lot of respect for Douglas as an actor
- the state of being admired or respected:his first chance in over fifteen years to regain respect in the business
- (respects) a person’s polite greetings:give my respects to their Excellencies
- informal used to express the speaker’s approval of someone or something:respect to Hill for a truly non-superficial piece on the techno scene
- 2) due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others:young people’s lack of respect for their parents
- 3) a particular aspect, point, or detail:the government’s record in this respect is a mixed one
- 1) admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements:she was respected by everyone she worked with(as adjective respected)a respected academic
- 2) have due regard for (someone’s feelings, wishes, or rights):I respected his views
- avoid harming or interfering with:it is incumbent upon all hill users to respect the environment
- agree to recognize and abide by (a legal requirement):the crown and its ministers ought to respect the ordinary law
Ignoring the other meanings for a moment, let’s look at the first:
a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements
How many people can you truly say that you respect? Can you actually say to yourself, while looking in your eyes in the mirror, that you respect someone that you have professed to hate?
Taking a personal example; I hate my Grandfather.
It might be a bit of a shocking example for many reasons, the very least of which is the fact that he passed on to the Summerlands a while back and one should never speak ill of the dead, but I have some very personal, very deep seated reasons for hating him. Some people that know what I am talking about may actually understand why I hate him.
Can I respect him?
I don’t know. I honestly, truly and with deep feeling in my bones do not know if I can respect him.
Why? Mostly because I barely knew him. Possibly if he hadn’t have done what he did to me, I might have been able to get to know him and I might have been able to respect him. However as things stand, I didn’t know him and I am unable to decide if I can respect him.
Can any of you say the same about the person that you hate?
Anyway, back to the main subject, why is it important to be respected?
Believe it or not, Wikipedia gives us a very good definition of the emotion of respect which may shed some more light on the question:
Respect gives a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., “I have great respect for her judgment”).
It can also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect.
Rude conduct is usually considered to indicate a lack of respect, disrespect, whereas actions that honor somebody or something indicate respect. Specific ethics of respect are of fundamental importance to various cultures.
Respect for tradition and legitimate authority is identified by Jonathan Haidt as one of five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals.
Respect should not be confused with tolerance, since tolerance doesn’t necessarily imply subordination to one’s qualities but means treating as equal.
The antonym and opposite of respect is contempt.
Respect is important because it defines civilisation. Everyone in this world is trying to gain respect in one form or another. And it has so many different forms… Self Respect; Environmental Respect; Cultural Respect; Societal Respect… and these are just the big ones.
Putting it simply, respect is the glue that ties civilisation together and when it is lost, differences become arguments, arguments become fights, fights become wars… and we all know what war does to civilisation.
Want an example? Okay. Let’s look at Israel and Palestine.
Going to the root of the problems in the geographical area of the world that these two countries claim is their land would probably be a whole article in itself.
Actually, thinking about it, the whole conflict could have a hundred different people analyse it and write weighty tomes about what they think is the problem and still not solve anything.
So I am going to tell you what my opinion on the matter is. Feel free to disagree; we’re all human after all and that is a big part of our nature, but I promise you I will respect your opinion (see #2 under Verb in the dictionary extract to see what I mean by that use of the word) and we shall remain on friendly terms.
Israel is the country that Judaism calls home. It is the place that their records tell them they come from and the birthplace of their religion.
Palestine is the geographical name for the area. When the news talks about the Israel /Palestine war what they are actually going on about is the State of Palestine…
Again, Wikipedia does a damn fine job of explaining this one, so I’ll let them enlighten you:
Palestine[i] (Arabic: فلسطين Filasṭīn / Falasṭīn / Filisṭīn), officially declared as the State of Palestine (Arabic: دولة فلسطينDawlat Filasṭin), is a state that was proclaimed in exile in Algiers on 15 November 1988, when the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO’s) National Council (PNC) adopted the unilateral Palestinian Declaration of Independence.
So here we have two separate countries claiming the same piece of land.
Why did the war start? I don’t actually know why (that’s an article for someone more interested in the subject), but I do know that they could have lived together quite happily had they just respected each other’s differences and agreed to share the physical space. The World is quite a big place… even if the piece of land they are fighting over is pretty small in comparison
Historical region of Palestine (as defined by Palestinian Nationalism) showing Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders
See? Surely it’s big enough to be divided equably between the two countries? Especially if they were to respect each other’s wishes and religious places.
Obviously they couldn’t come to a respectful conclusion. Look what happened next:
Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) showing Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders
Surely both sides would be happy now? Well we all know from the news that neither side is happy. Look at how it stands now:
Palestinian National Authority showing Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders
Will they ever be able to respect each other enough to live together without fighting? That’s a question that only time can tell.
Why on earth are you maundering on about this? Is there an actual point to this article?
Um, yes, actually there is a point. And believe it or not it’s about people…
Think of the geographical location of Palestine as a single person. What do you get?
One very messed up disturbed person! Schizophrenic even…
Definition of schizophrenia
- a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
- (in general use) a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements:Gibraltar’s schizophrenia continues to be fed by colonial pride
/-ˈfrɛnɪk/ adjective & noun
early 20th century: modern Latin, from Greek skhizein ‘to split’ + phrēn ‘mind’
And the way that Palestine is looking, I’d say that there was almost no hope left of curing them… I could be wrong; I hope I’m wrong. As a Person, Palestine lost it’s self respect a long time ago.
In a person when you lose respect for yourself it starts you on a gentle downward slope. A lot of different things can cause that initial loss of self respect, but it’s what happens if you don’t recover that feeling of admiration for yourself that concerns me.
Why it concerns me is that I had an Eureka moment today. And yes, it actually happened in the bath. All the best things happen in the bath; half my best story ideas occurred to me in the bath… as well as a few other things. This particular eureka moment is a bit more serious… And this is where what I said about my Grandfather comes in as well.
What my Grandfather did to me (no, I won’t tell you exactly what it was, just that it should never ever happen to an eight year old girl) stopped me from developing my own self respect properly. Then I went through the whole growing up thing, hit teenage years and what little self respect I had managed to regain disappeared into being a teenager.
When you’re a teenager, you are looking to be treated as an adult, but still want to act like a child. So you do some very stupid things to gain respect from your peer group.
In my case, that included getting completely and utterly blotto on red wine and throwing up in other people’s gardens on the way home, as my long suffering little sister did her best to get me home (did I ever say thank you to her for that? I can’t remember, but I’m saying it now – THANK YOU, CHRISSIE!)
You mistake the respect and tolerance that adults give each other as self respect… and in the process you lose what little self respect you actually have.
Now most people climb back out of that particular pit and redevelop their self respect. I did too, pulled myself back out, went to uni and met my fiance… then I had kids.
One of the things that they don’t warn you about having children is that if you aren’t careful, you can lose your self respect. I did. I mistook the love I had for my children as self respect and submerged myself in their needs. I forgot about my needs. There’s a fine balance between loving your children so much you give yourself over to them totally and loving them while you love and respect yourself.
In the bath, I realised that I had done the former.
It’s time to get myself and my self respect back…again.
And that revelation and realisation makes me happy. It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to do it.