Ralph Waldo Emerson was a poet, philosopher and essayist in the 19th century in America. I have never completely agreed with his teachings, yet one of his statements have stuck in my mind ever since I first read it. It says: “Men are respectable only as they respect” . This is not a well-known quote, yet I find it to be one of the most profound quotes I have ever learned.
I have always believed that the most solid cornerstone of any relationship is respect. A relationship built on respect is not easily shaken. I would even go as far as to say that respect is more important in marriage than love. It is true that marriage starts out based on love, but what makes it last, long past the sell by date of the sweaty palms and weak knees, is the respect for one another, built up over a period of time.
In the military, where I work, respect is crucial. One of the very first things that is drummed into new recruits, is to respect their seniors . In fact, they are taught that even if they cannot respect the person in the uniform, they still have to respect the uniform. Unfortunately far too many of the persons in the uniform depends solely on the uniform earning them respect and does nothing to earn it themselves. This is not at all the kind of respect I am referring to. This kind of respect is demanded and invariably, this respect is soon replaced by contempt..
True respect is never demanded, it is always earned. It is also not something that happens in a day or two. It comes with time and it grows stronger with time. It does not mean that the other person must be perfect, it only means that the other person must have certain qualities that you can believe in and trust upon. For the other person to have such qualities, he must firstly have respect for himself.
It is easy to respect someone with self-respect. A person who respects himself will act with integrity. He will not behave in any manner to embarass himself, or discredit himself, or in a manner not true to himself... and and I have found that such persons usually are very modest, no matter their material or social standing.
It is important to know that having respect for a person, does not always mean that you agree with what he says, what he does or even what he thinks. Respect simply means that you accept him as an equal human being with admirable qualities and you treat him as such, even when you differ from him. Let me explain.