Giving and Receiving Respect
Respect has the following definition in dictionary.com: “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.”
In addition to esteem, I would add to that respect has to be functional. That is, I believe respect has to be put into action or it is not respect.
Beginning with ourselves
More often than not we think of respect as something we bestow upon others which is wonderful to do. But how could we do so without first respecting ourselves? We cannot give what we don’t have to give. Which raises the question, how do we show respect for ourselves?
It can begin as simply as having a good night’s sleep and wholesome breakfast in the morning. Why might this be a big deal? We are rapidly moving toward a 24/7 global society—if not already there. We might be tempted to think to ourselves, “I’ll catch up (or keep up) with my work (or studying) if I stay up and work. I can get along on less sleep.” Well, not exactly. Whatever amount of sleep we all need, 6 hours, 7 hours, 8 hours, we need it. And we also need good nutrition to keep up with the ever increasing demands on us. If we place other things above our good health in priorities, then what does that say about our priorities? I believe that says we need to reevaluate our priorities. Would you respect the right of someone else to get a good night’s sleep and wholesome nutrition? If so, you are worthy of that same respect.
Here is another question: Do you always have respect for how you feel? That has not always been easy for me. There can be a huge difference in feelings between, “I forgot to get the carry out dinner on the way home. Let’s order something to be delivered,” and, “I forgot to make reservations our anniversary. Let’s order something to be delivered.” In both cases, the end suggestion is the same. The emotional impact can be worlds apart. In both cases, how quickly does self-respect remain or does it need to be reestablished?
Going beyond the basics, do we give ourselves respect in the conversations we have with people? I have done this myself. I have outwardly agreed with someone to prevent an uncomfortable situation. I came away from that conversation feeling diminished. I thought less of myself. Now I have a different approach. I listen carefully and repeat back what I heard paraphrasing it. That way I get confirmation I heard correctly. Then I would explain my own point of view. I often find there is common ground.
A deeper look
What could be more fundamentally important to us than respecting each other? Martin Luther King is one of my role models. In his I have a Dream speech he said, “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children." Unfortunately, there are people who still believe others who have different skin color than themselves are not so worthy of respect. They associate a difference in appearance with a difference in humanity. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a website showing various facts about our DNA, number 41 is: “Over 99% of our DNA sequence is the same as other humans’.” In other words, the genetics of all of us is virtually identical. In other words, we are all the same race—the human race.
A promising trend
In our society, an increasing number of people and groups are calling for respect for diversity among all people regardless of religious or personal beliefs, or how much or little money somebody has. It is big news now. The question I have for myself is how to put it into everyday action.
Every day respect
A few little gestures to brighten someone’s day can quickly spread. If you make someone smile and laugh, that kindness will be passed on to someone else.
A little survey
I would be interested to know. How many opportunities would you have in a week’s time to allow someone with a small order to get ahead of you in the supermarket checkout lane or wave someone ahead of you at an intersection you stopped at? My question is this: How did it make you feel? You both benefitted. Please share your comments below.
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