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.

In our country we have different ethnic groups and even more cultures.  The manner in which marriages and funerals (two major events in all the cultures) are conducted, varies greatly from one group to the next.  When I am invited to an Indian wedding, I conform to the conventions of the Indian culture and when I attend an African funeral, I conform to the traditions followed during an African funeral.  Both the Indian wedding and the African funeral differs completely from my own European culture, but because I recognise the right of both the Indian and African community to their traditions and cultures, I respect them.

I opine that respect is essential to keeping this world civilised.  Without respect, there would be no longer any reason to consider the next man or his life.  Just stop for a moment and think:  Where would that leave us? 

It saddens and frightens me to see how respect is slowly (and maybe not so slowly) vanishing in this technological age.  Looking at  social pages like Facebook on the internet, or Mixit on cellphones, I wonder where respect has gone.  The anonymity of the persons on the other side of the satelite signal seems to nulify the necessity for respect or even good manners.

Is technology maybe the beginning of the end for respect?  After all, it is mostly the young people of today, thus the leaders of tomorrow, who spends hours socialising anonymously over satelite signals.


RNSANE said...

What an excellent, timely post and I wholeheartedly agree with you. Respect is often lacking in today's society as are morals! Children learn these, less and less, in the home which is a sad reflection on the disintegration of the family.

It's good to see you posting!

A human kind of human said...

Hi there Favourite Sane RN, yes I have been away from Blogland for quite a long time and it is good to be back. Hopefully I will be posting more regularly again. I accidentaly published this post before I finished writing it and I had to edit it to complete it. I hope you did not read only the incomplete part.

RNSANE said...

Yes, I did read the shorter version so I came back to read the rest! Hope all is well in South Africa. How's the new boss?

Gaelyn said...

I agree that respect and honesty are above all most important amongst people of All cultures. I am saddened to hear that children are not being taught to respect themselves and others beyond America. I'm not sure if I'd blame technology as much as parents.
Very good post.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

This is a brilliant post Anne and I agree with you whole heartedly. I think it is because people do not respect themselves anymore that this world is in the mess it is. Respect to me means more than any other single thing in this world and no matter what the views, habits, cultures of other people are, I always respect them even if they are very different to mine or I do not understand them.

Each person is allowed their own lives and ways and should still be respected for it.

Now when it comes to those like you describe who EXPECT and try to force you to respect them, I have nothing but contempt for them as they are arrogant bullies with not one tiny shred of decency in them. As you said, respect is earned.....

Kirsty said...

Interesting post :) As a Facebooker and user of mass technology, I always aim to maintain totall politeness and respect for everyone! But I agree - there's something lacking when we just don't TALK to each other anymore.

Jo said...

I read a blog post today where the blogger said "Character is who you are when no one is looking". This sort of dovetails with your post. It is so easy to be disrespectful when we are "anonymous", but lack of respect shows a lack of character.

It's nice to see you back. :-)

A human kind of human said...

Thank you for all your comments. When it comes to disrespect and technology, it unfortunately is not only the children, but the adults also. Not only on the screen but also when they sit in company and instead of talking to the "company", they are busy texting on their cellphones... Aargh!