I always thought this word described something that was earned. A sincere and genuine sentiment inspired in us by another. I Respect Rafael Nadals ability to hold his own, even on clay, against the rising talent of Novak Djokavic despite the latter’s apparent talent dominance in men’s tennis at the moment. I respect him because he still able to win quite often, even though arguably outgunned. It shows a certain mental quality that I recognize, admire and possibly even envy.
I’m sure the above is a simple enough statement and an understandable sentiment. It’s what I feel rightly or wrongly, so I can state it freely. Nobody should be able to hold your true feelings against you, even though they can perhaps moderate how you express them if there is a danger they may harm others.
What is to be the appropriate reaction then, to a screaming politician like former youth league leader Julius Malema demanding respect but not showing it? What about a terrorist organization demanding respect for the Prophet Mohammed, and threatening death to those daring to render his image in cartoon or otherwise? How much respect can be shown to someone’s symbol when they have made clear their reciprocal value on your life?
Can respect be demanded or even requested? Can it only be earned? What is the feeling out there?
In terms of our cultural identities and the inherited ritual and ceremony inherent in them, there are two aspects to re-individualizing or freeing ourselves. The first aspect is severing the ties that currently bind us to a value system. The second is finding and knowing ourselves, developing the self awareness to get in touch with that part oneself that makes us an individual.
Let’s look at the first aspect, severing the ties. What holds us back?
I seriously put forward that respect, unnecessary respect, is corrupting our ability to recognize ineffectual and outdated value systems, and holding us tied to them because respect is seen as an absolute noble quality with context and application largely misunderstood and ignored.
What happens if we experiment with the context and application to highlight true motives of control and hypocrisy inherent in them?
Let’s look at religion in particular, a huge cultural identifier.
I propose that you cannot possibly respect somebody if you have to pretend to respect their unrealistic beliefs in order to keep the peace. You can only show respect to them if you feel free in front of them to express to them that you feel their beliefs are out of touch with reality, but that you respect and defend their right to believe what they want, as long it does not infringe on the rights of others, surely?
As an atheist/agnostic whatever your definition requirements are, I seldom receive this “respect” in return for my lack of belief in a supernatural creator from the religious, only requests to respect their particular deity/dogma. I’m often called cowardly or a “Fence Sitter” (illogically if you think about it). Why respect is typically only expected to work this way around is a mystery, why can’t I be the one getting offended if I am made to say “grace” or whatever, just out of some sort of expected manners protocol? I say poor manners the other way around rather by expecting me to do it!?
The consequence of embarrassment should be felt by person that believes in magic and want to have it seriously put forward as an option for everyone, not by the reasonable person who relies on evidence and tangible sensory perception? Why get embarrassed by offending people who are choosing to take offence by restricting your freedom of expression?
They are free to pursue their beliefs, but I respect them too much as a person to respect their supernatural beliefs and I would rather engage in occasional healthy honest debate if they require it, than avoid them a permanent basis because I threaten their particular delusion and I have to pussyfoot around the topic in case I offend.
Nobody has the right to take offense if you speak about how you feel in a way that is not insulting. I can think religion is absurd and still have religious friends, I can think lime milkshake is revolting and still have friends that drink it. I do not think they are absurd or revolting. We need to learn to not confuse our issues, that’s where respect comes into the picture honestly.
Viva la difference, lose the fear and ditch the unnecessary respect, cut the first tie that binds!
This is the first freedom we take for ourselves, nobody will give it to you, and you need to take it!