A Treatise On Respect

 

The Unworthy

In my line of work, I all too often encounter the types of people who are undeservingly demanding of respect.  These types of people in no way actually command true respect, and are certainly not worthy of it, yet they still arbitrarily demand to be shown and treated with “respect” regardless of this fact. In fact, they are usually the ones who are the most overly obsessed with the concept of “respect” in general.  So much so that they also tend to be the biggest crybabies with the thinnest skin, who are the most overly sensitive towards what they perceive as being slighted or “disrespected”.

The reasons behind this are actually pretty simple.  First off, these people use the word “respect” as if it were nothing more than a cheap slang “buzzword”, and have absolutely no idea whatsoever about what actually constitutes true respect or honor.  Sure, in their own minds and within their own twisted value systems they have created their own definitions of respect and what is considered worthy of respect, yet deep down they know—whether they want to admit it or not—that these values are not recognized by most, and are in no way respected or regarded by real men of honor and accomplishment. Therefore in reality, they are actually quite insecure about themselves, despite a false bravado of confidence.  Their artificially inflated, narcissistic, psychopathic egos are actually quite fragile in the face of reality, leaving them overly sensitive to any perceived threat or challenge to their façade.

These are also the same psychopathic kind of people who not only demand unwarranted personal respect, but are also overly demanding that their rights and property be respected as well.  Yet at the same time, they display little regard for the respect, rights, and property of others.

In dealing with these types of people on a daily basis, it made me consider my own thoughts on the concept of respect.

What Is Respect

Now It seems to me, that those who are the most demanding and obsessed with the concept of respect, are usually the ones who deserve it the least.  I am a firm believer that true respect is earned and never demanded, but the way I see it, there are basically two kinds of respect: basic respect and true respect.

Like most things in life, these categories fall along opposite ends of a spectrum.  On one end is basic respect, and on the other is true respect.  The center point of this spectrum is common courtesy, general politeness, and manners.

Basic Respect

As I see it, basic respect is on the extreme negative end of the spectrum, and is the absolute lowest form of respect.  It is treating someone with absolutely nothing more than basic human rights and dignity.  This could include nothing more than providing food, water, a prison cell for shelter, a fair trial, and a humane execution.  The absolute bare bones level of humane treatment, reserved for the absolute extreme worst examples of humanity.

The purveyors and orchestrators of genocide and mass slaughter, and the truly evil on a large scale would fall on this end of the spectrum.  They may be terrible evil people, unworthy of freedom, trust, respect, and friendship, but in theory a civilized society still extends them basic human rights and dignity, free from cruel and unusual punishment.  Obviously most people, even the truly heinous, do not usually fall on the extreme end of the spectrum.

Manners

The center point of this spectrum, as I see it, is common courtesy and manners, and it reflects the general interactions with people that we come into contact with in our daily lives.  It is treating those we meet in passing, or don’t really know that well, with common courtesy and politeness.  It is the base line for which most socially well-adjusted people treat each other.

If someone is rude or wrongs you, or you learn something about them which you find offensive, then your perception of them will fall a degree on the spectrum, and it may govern the way further interactions with that person are conducted.  On that same token, the more you get to know someone, develop a relationship and trust, or learn of attributes that they possess which you find admirable, then your respect for them may increase.

True Respect

True respect, on the positive end of the spectrum, is real, earned, genuine respect, based on character, accomplishment, trust, honor, and virtue.  It is the respect which does not need to be demanded, because we automatically bestow it on those we deem worthy of it.  We know it when we see it.

We all respect different people for different reasons.  Although there can often be a large general consensus on certain people who are deemed worthy of respect by society as a whole, generally speaking, there is usually more of a consensus as a society about who is considered unworthy of respect as opposed to who is.  However, as our society continues to grow more fractured and marginalized, and our culture and values decline in the face of cultural-Marxism, moral relativism, and multiculturalism, I think it will become much less common for there to ever be a widespread consensus as to who we as a society deem worthy of respect.  Also, as I stated above, there are plenty of subcultures and outgroups in society who create their own value systems and “honor cultures” relative to themselves, and therefore have created their own attributes and deeds worthy of respect.

Also, because the concept of true respect has become far more culturally relative than ever before in today’s permissive society, and as a consequence the meaning has also become cheapened.  Words like “respect”, “honor”, “courage”, and “hero” are thrown around so frequently in today’s society and media, that they have essentially become meaningless.  So far removed are they from their historic cultural definitions, as well as being so arbitrarily and liberally attached to people, that they have practically lost any real meaning or value.  When a word or concept can mean anything, it really means nothing.

Yet true respect is still a very personal concept as well, despite any cultural inflation.  True respect also becomes more relative, subjective, and personal the further along you go, due to individual preferences and priorities about which attributes and accomplishments constitute and are worthy of the utmost respect.  Therefore, because true respect is often highly personal, it is also a dynamic concept, rising and perhaps falling over the course of a relationship.  It is also important to note that a person may very well possess admirable and contemptible qualities or history at the same time, and therefore respect is a relative and individual judgment and balancing act.  It requires critical thinking and one’s own personal character, core values, principles, and judgment to assess the character of another.

Conclusion

In the end, we are all human, we have all made mistakes, and even heroes have their faults and skeletons.  Be careful about placing someone on a pedestal, and be careful about bestowing respect based solely upon superficial qualities.  The important thing to remember is that no man, no matter how worthy of respect, should be praised and exalted above others to the point of demigod or superiority status.  All men are equal in their humanity, but not all men are equal in their character.

Revised 6-6-15

© 2014 by AB Frank, All Rights Reserved

Read More:  The Price Of Promotion

 

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