Respect…a gift from the Gods, or a multi edged sword of destruction?


FS-British-SaluteIn a previous post, Manners Maketh Man..I’m not too sure, I explored the way that we, as individuals, regard ourselves and how we interact with others within society. Quite soon a comment was made upon the post regarding the question of respect

If you respect yourself, you will respect others. If you have manners, you will apply them to yourself and others. Simple.

At first glance this seemed to be an admirable sentiment, but then I got thinking, is respect a tool that we, as humans, handle very well. We say we respect others, we say that we respect the world around us, and we say that without self respect we, as individuals are nothing; yet is all of this true?

Puzzled by what I mean, well look at the quotes below

“Respect yourself and others will respect you.”

Confucius-the sayings of Confucius

“If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky-The insulted and humiliated

He didn’t want the respect of people who weren’t worth wiping his nose on—people who weren’t worth the spatout gum attached to the bottom of his worn-out shoes. The only respect he wanted was from himself and the people who really mattered in his life. The people who really loved and cared about him

Sherrilyn Kenyon-Infinity

I would love to respect myself myself as much as I respect others around me; but we are all humans, and all too often that in itself is a crime

Chris Wilson–Here and now

The last quote, far inferior to the rest is mine and mine alone, and I’m sure it will not even reach the elevated heights of total obscurity, but It has always amused when we, en masse, chuck around this gorgeous little phrase with no concern as to its validity, appropriateness, or meaning (whatever that may be). We all talk about respect, we all say that we give respect, and finally we often offer our respects to all those around us, but take a glance at the phrases below, do any of them ring a bell

  1. With the greatest respect..
  2. Most respectfully yours…
  3. While I respect your position, I have to say…
  4. I have the utmost respect for what you are trying to do, but…
  5. I hear what you say, and I respect your right to hold your views, but…

We all say them, half the time we fool ourselves that we all mean them, but in translation, what do such phrases generally mean. Well let’s go through the again

  1. I think you are a blithering idiot, but I’ll be nice to you before having my say
  2. Blah, blah, blah, or, I really am trying so hard to be polite, but..
  3. I have no respect for your position, so zip it buddy, and listen to what I have to say
  4. You really are a total blithering idiot, now get out of the way!
  5. I’m not interested in what you are saying, I don’t think you have any right to say such things, and now I’m going to pulverize you with my words

Sounds a bit cynical does it, well, the next time you are engaged in a civilised discussion with someone you disagree with, just listen to yourself, and then think about what you really want to say.

I like respect though. I regard it as a powerful social lubricant or tool which, if used properly, can negate conflict, ease the passage of many a subject matter, and help gloss over so many aspects of life that we would rather see remaining hidden and unseen. As such the problem lies not with the tool, but with its usage, or a abusage as it all to often seems

It’s curious really when you think about it. The rest of nature “respects” other life that surrounds it, unless of course it can gain an advantage through natural coercion or thuggery, but us poor souls, who are part of nature, seem to get horribly confused. We invent social codes, Like forcing a square peg into a round hole we jam in rules and regulations to enforce such codes, and then, to truly bugger up the system, we slap on layers and layers of high minded, and impeccably principled, ethical morality. This is all wonderful, we tell ourselves, but then we wonder what is happening when, almost inevitably, things begin to go wrong.

Finally, in this post a short section of self respect, and it’s effect on respect for others around us.

The_looking_glass_selfIs it really possible to respect others if you have no respect for yourself

The argument seems to go that if you have no self respect then you cannot respect others, as you have little or no notion of what such a term might mean. At first glance this sounds fair enough but I would say that, under certain circumstances, this is wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware, from personal history, that if view yourself, and your surroundings, as garbage ,and you cannot see over the parapet, then respect for anything can seem to be nothing more than a fairy tale or a dream. Yet what if you are in that mess, part of that mess, but able to look over the parapet edge to see a better life beyond?

Might it be that you can respect what is there, while not having any respect for the mess you are in. Furthermore, what if you realise that the mess you find yourself has been largely created by you and you alone, and that, standing beside you, is  a gentleman with a clip board reminding you of all that you have done.

I have been there, done that, and I’m still wearing the T-shirt to this day. So it is that I can say with absolute sincerity that you can respect anything you want to respect around you, regardless of any self respect you may or may not have inside.

Sure it is better to respect yourself, just as it is better to have a healthy degree of self-interest, confidence, and self belief, as life with such tools beside you is far more comfortable, but such things are not the be all and end all of everything. For me the ultimate prize is that of a genuine knowledge of who you really are.

Such a knowledge may not be pretty, in my case it is often downright ludicrous or shamefully ugly, but the best thing I have had to do several times in my life is to face up to who I really am.

I know that, in many respects, I have messed up my life, and that my chronic self-negativity (if there is such a phrase), is largely nobodies fault but my own, but through such knowledge comes strength, as at least I know the true nature of my foe

So to end this blog by reference to it’s title. I would say, in conclusion, that it can be both a gift, as well as a weapon of destruction. Are we not the ones, who through it’s usage, must unravel such a question, and, as such, does not such a choice lies within all of our minds, and within the palms of all of our hands?

I hope you enjoy, or at least appreciate the video’s below

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