Let's talk about respect

Ill say that two of the most important qualities people can show for one another are love and respect.

To show love I think is easier than respect just because it comes more naturally. If you are happy, you will show love unconsciously. But it tends to come in short bursts for most rather than a steady ongoing thing. Often, people are moody and that loving feeling goes right out the window along with respect which I think is the deal-breaker in a lot of relationships. I feel that respect is one of those things that need to be maintained.

Some examples I would include would be to not insult others, to not deliberately hurt them in some fashion (lie, cheat, steal, embarrass) and of course to not use violence against another.

I find this quality to be severely lacking in people. So, what were you taught about respect? What other examples of disrespect would you include? What do you think the root of the problem is?

Respect can mean different things.

You may hold someone in high esteem because of their talents or character or behavior. This kind of respect has to be earned, and lots of people don’t earn it or get it.

You may may accept someone even though you don’t much like them, because they are another human being who has not done anything bad. In this case you are respecting their right to exist unmolested, among other things. This kind of respect only has to be earned in a negative way, e.g. by not doing bad things. It is the default kind of respect that everyone should get, until they lose the right to it.

You may treat someone with respect (i.e. appear to feel respect) even when you don’t actually have that feeling. This may be due to a power differential at work, for example; you step aside to let the uber-boss walk by, even though you think he’s a wanker. This is an example of treating someone with (probably unearned) respect.

You suggest that there is a problem and that there is not enough respect in the world. I would guess from your remarks that the kind of respect that you think is lacking is the second one I have described. People walk all over other people all the time and don’t think twice about it; or they think that people they don’t like should be rounded up and herded into concentration camps, or something.

The root of that problem is that people are fearful and ignorant, mostly because they are raised that way, and nothing in their life has taught them any better. I have no idea how to make it any better, except by example.

I’m not sure about love, per se. I consider love to be a deep-felt, poorly understood emotional connection. Respect is another matter.

In another thread I’m discussing the practice of “defriending” someone on Facebook based their political or religious beliefs. I don’t see the appeal and don’t usually do it, but a lot of people do. Why, I’m not sure.

People do this in real life. “Wait, your politics are different than mine? Then the hell with ya, I don’t want to talk to you”. “You believe in Jesus and I don’t? then I have no use for you.” I confess that I don’t understand this sentiment at all.

If you asked my 20 years ago what caused this, I would say I have no idea. Today, I think the poison and vitriol that comes hand-in-hand politics is a big factor in this paradigm shift in people’s beliefs. Especially after 9/11. Remember GWB’s “if you aren’t with us you’re against us?” I think that sentiment has followed a lot of people since then, and grown exponentially bigger. I remember when Rush Limbaugh was considered a total loon by most people. Now we have Beck, Hannity, Maher, etc spewing poison and encouraging hate. It’s apparent in climate change deniers and the Tea Party, as well as gun control advocates and pro-abortion groups. I think it started with politics, but has transcended that, but still has a political base. Of course, religion made a parlor game out of this behavior long ago. But at least what I can remember of the 90’s (I was teenager and probably paying much attention), people did not judge each other based on political affiliation the way they do now.

People follow the example of those in charge. Political groups are a prime example. Churches too, like the ones who want to burn the Koran and put homosexuals in concentration camps. A totally irrational idea is supported by a group of normal people because those in charge are advocating for it, and the people follow those in charge. This also occurs in the workplace, and an office with a particularly nasty and shit-stirring boss can poison the whole group, causing people to take sides and end up with everybody hating each other.

Parents have a lot to do with it also. Bigots tend to raise bigots, and so on down the line.

I don’t particularly care about your religious or political beliefs. You can try to convert me, I won’t care. I’m not going to exhibit the same behavior. If you start belittling those with different beliefs that you, I suspect future contact between us will be minimal. That is not based on your beliefs but behavior. Despite this, I will not belittle you, call you names, point and laugh, post it to Facebook, or any other asinine beliefs.

(Having said that, I think we as a country have an obligation to stop those in power from turning such beliefs into policy. Michelle Bachman’s recent attempt to resurrect McCarthyism is a prime example of this.)

Without a sliver of doubt the kindest, sweetest, most friendly person I have ever met was a Mormon. Runner-up for Coolest People I Have Ever Met are two Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I tell people this they are shocked. SHOCKED! Those people are different from us! They must be shunned!


Um… it’s not that they are different than us as people, it’s that the practice of their religion virtually requires them to annoy others. Do you find it strange that people therefore presume they are annoying?

Many people think other people who knock on your door unannounced and insist on talking about religion (both taboo acts in some parts of the country) are congenital jackasses. Totally aside from other aspects of the religion a person may agree with or disagree with, barging into one’s home is more than enough to put Mormons/JWs on a huge number of shit lists. If a person participates in annoying pain-in-the-assery, the obvious conclusion is that they don’t themselves object to it, which also means they endorse it, which also means, what the heck is wrong with you people practicing this religion, that you think this is ok?

I happen to know some people who practice LDS that I like alot. But if my only exposure to mormons was through their extremely annoying habit of door to door proselytyzing, I’d also be pretty surpised the first time I heard of one who wasn’t an asshole.

I find that a lot of people who make a point of specifically talking about respect actually mean treating people differently based on who they are generally. Treating old people better than young people. Treating women special because they might fall apart if they treat them as bad as they treat men.

It’s nice that those people have good intentions but I don’t find those things very respectful. I do believe that genuine respect is very important though, which calls for general kindness to strangers and so on.

One of the advantages of a large, fluid society is that we can pretty much tailor our social circles to meet our desires, preferences, and needs.

If you find someone acting in a way that dismays you, you can simply drop him. Walk away. Slip out the back, Jack. Find other friends who are more amiable, more fitting.

A “Golden Rule” approach works fairly well: behave in the manner you wish others would behave in. Show respect for them, and they’re more likely to show respect for you.

Don’t try to change people. There are those who simply will not show respect. It isn’t in their nature. Leopards and spots. It’s a bit sad, but if someone seriously hurts your feelings three times or more, you might just as well delete their name from your contacts list.