We thought of making June “Respect” month at Successful Youth Living. Then we considered that attention to respect should not be limited to only one month. Respect is something we should think about and use every day of our lives. Therefore, we decided that every month should be considered “Respect” month.
But why should respect be given so much attention, when it is something that we are expected to regard as a norm? The reason is that we pay lip service to the concept of respect, while at the same time not understanding what it entails, or not thinking that it is something significant about which we should concern ourselves. We may be taking it for granted that it is something that comes naturally. But it doesn’t.
The truth is, if we stop to look at the ways in which we treat each other, we would soon realize that respect has long been replaced with disrespect, evidenced by the fact that respect is vastly lacking in most of our relationships and in all areas of our lives. But respect is something that makes us care about and for each other. Therefore, with disrespect so rampant in our society, we do not display the care that we ought to show towards each other. We do not take the time to consider how we make each other feel.
When we speak of showing respect, we are not speaking about being polite and considerate to people who have wealth, who are considered powerful and popular, and whom people think of as very important. We are not speaking of being disrespectful to people who are different, or whom we think do not matter. When we speak about respect, we are speaking about the quality that makes us see others, regardless of their position in life, as valuable in their own right, and as decent in how they relate to others. It does not matter whether people are from low socio-economic standing, from different ethnic groups and countries, or identify with different genders. It does not matter whether they are unknown or unpopular, illiterate or educated, or homeless or luxuriously housed. We are expected to treat all people with respect, because this is how we would like to be treated: fairly, with dignity and with human kindness.
But we often make the mistake of overlooking ordinary individuals who are decent and considerate, as being not worthy of respect, while lavishing much attention and accolades on individuals who may be powerful and popular, but who do not respect themselves and for whom respect is something foreign. In situations like these, we err in not recognizing what is critical for being shown respect. Although we are expected to respect all people because of their inherent ‘humanness’, we err when we see respect as something special that we lavish on some and not on others.
In order to understand the true meaning and significance of respect, we need to understand that the prerequisite of respect is self-respect. We have to respect ourselves first before we are really able to respect others. If we do not respect ourselves, how then can we respect others and expect others to respect us?
Read More about Respect at RESPECT IS ONLY HUMAN: a Response to Disrespect and Implicit Bias