R is for … Respect
What is it about Respect that is seen as a weakness nowadays?
If a young person shows respect for an older person, their peers (think snotty teenagers) will tease and hassle the polite youth for being a sissy or similar. If a sporty man shows respect for his girlfriend/wife his team mates will give cheek about him being pussy-whipped ~ especially if he is seen to be doing something for her.
I have seen two men together, clearly a couple, and witnessed the reaction of less secure men making comments along the lines of how pathetic they are or that one is obviously the girl of the couple. Now this irritates me on many levels. First, what the hell is wrong with being a girl?! And why do the general ignorant population presume one of a couple has to be the ‘man’ or the ‘leader/boss of a relationship? I thought a ‘couple’ type of relationship was a team partnering. It is for me, anyway.
But the thing that really gets me is the lack of respect shown for other people. I’m not that old that it’s just an old-fashioned ideal. It’s not so weird… and it certainly isn’t a sign of weakness or submission!
There are three main aspects to respect: the respect you show to others; the respect others show to you; and your own self-respect. I think the key is with the last, Self-Respect.
Sure, this comes from being taught from an early age, as do the other aspects, but I rather think that without self-respect the other two are part of a losing battle. If a person has no self-respect it is going to be very difficult for them to command any respect from others, and it is very unlikely they will show respect to others unless it’s forced upon them in some way. That’s not really respect… it’s more like fear.
When I was a teenager, I thought it was a sign of an ‘old person’ that they said things like “the trouble with youth today is…” but I’m not old enough to accept being described as Old, except by a child. However, the trouble with Youth today (and I’ve been saying this since I was only just 20!) is that they don’t have the same self-respect that was taught and expected of the youth of the generations before. When I was a kid I would never have dreamed of expecting anything handed to me without earning it in some way. If I wanted money for something I did a job to get some sort payment. I was allowed to collect the empty bottles and redeem them at the dairy… this was such a good idea ~ not only did I earn enough to buy a train ticket and a movie ticket but also the bottles would get recycled rather than smashed in the car parks.
I grew up with an inbuilt respect for my elders. They worked hard to get where they were and, although very sure that I was indeed valued and loved, I knew that didn’t give me a higher status than anyone else. Kids my age that were given everything, or expected things to come easily were described and spoilt. I think that description is still suitable.
There’s something good and healthy about old-fashioned values. I don’t know of a single person on this planet that has been disadvantaged by showing respect to their elders.
Except perhaps in the situation of bullying. And the bully clearly has not been taught to value and show respect to others. And just so it’s clear… ‘Bully’ covers anyone who does this type of behaviour, from the kid in the playground, right through to the politicians, bank managers, salespeople, certain bosses.
I don’t condone crime of any sort, if you do the crime then you are responsible for the consequences. It really is as simple as that to me. However, there are certain crimes I understand… not condone, but do understand. The poor person who steals out of necessity… even the parent who smacks a child harder than they intend and cause injury; a squabble that escalates in the playground. None of these are ok, but I can see how circumstances come about. (At this point, I would like to point out that my definition of a smack is a simple open hand smack on the hand or bum, once only. Any more, any object held and a closed hand or fist equal a beating not a smack.)
But! A crime against another person can be avoided. ANY crime against another person can be avoided if the person responsible has some self-respect and respect for others.
My Dad (who turned out to be extremely wise!) always said to me that a person should have enough freedom to do what they want in the world as long as it does not impinge on the rights of anyone else.
He also said, anyone can do anything they like as long as they accept the consequences.
The rights of all human beings according to my parents, was to be safe, be fed and nourished, clothed, housed, educated, cared for. All people had the right to be respected as individuals, as humans, and as equal to anyone else.
What right do I have to take something that belongs to another? None. No right at all, it’s wrong.
I am aware that some people are born into very difficult circumstances and some are born into very privileged ones… and there’s a great many variances in between. But if a very disadvantaged person born into slums or absolute poverty can rise above that and be respectful to their fellow human beings, then so too can anyone. Wealth and privilege give no excuse to mistreat people and in fact, I’d agree with some who say those in privileged circumstances have a responsibility to treat others with more kindness not less.
It’s a true measure of a person’s character, the way a person treats others less fortunate than themselves.
Too often, we find someone will be very polite to their grandmother, or the stranger at the bus stop, and yet rude and impatient with their own spouse or children.
Please and Thank You are still Magic Words. Using a title, Mr or Mrs Whatsaname, Auntie or Uncle Thingy… these are simple ways of showing respect. Use them. Teach your children to use them. If you’re an Auntie or Uncle ask your relations to use them. It’s a bit hard to rude to someone when you’re addressing them as Mrs … all my teachers were referred to like that and they had the respect of (most of) the students.
Holding the door, or carrying a bag for another person… these too are simple ways to show respect. I love it when a man holds the door for me – I don’t see it as an anti-feminism put down the way some do… rather a courtesy of the good old-fashioned Manners. I also like it when a woman or a youth holds the door, and I will do it for the person following me in, or someone carrying something.
Looking a person in the face (with a smile?) when you’re addressing them is important. I get Chinese takeaways regularly on a shopping night. I sometimes see other people place their order and barely look at the person across the counter – how rude! Is this ‘servant’ not worthy of your attention?? If not, then eat elsewhere, I say.
A little bit of respect goes a long way to making the world, or at your part of the world, a much nicer place to be in. go on, make a point of opening the door for someone today, make sure you Thank you! to the bus driver…
Have a great day readers.