Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Respect for Others

As I pointed out in my last post, I think that self-respect is related to respect for others. Because of this, I just changed the order of this post and the next. Including the last post it makes a triology of respect, and now in this order: self-respect, respect for others, and respect from others. Which makes sense to me, because I think you need to respect yourself before you can really respect others, and you need to respect others before others will really respect you.

As I said in my last post, I'm an egalitarian which, in this case, means I believe in giving a basic measure of respect to all people equally. I've been studying Buddhist notions of compassion which involve treating all people equally, even those who harm others or want to do you harm. It doesn't mean not stopping them from harming others (Chögyam Trungpa calls this 'idiot compassion'), but it does mean to respect them as another human being. (Sharon Salzberg tells the story of being accosted during a wet weather period in India by a man out to do her harm. When she later told this to a monk who had been teaching her, he suggested that she should have grabbed her umbrella and "with all the loving-kindness in your heart" hit him over the head with it.) On the other hand, there are certainly people who earn a great deal of respect from me for what they do and how they treat others.

In some societies, not being shown respect is an insult that deserves retaliation. As mentioned in the last post, studies have shown that when gang members don't feel respected they often resort to violence. There is talk about being 'dissed' (disrespected). But when people feel respected, there is the possibility of dialogue and connection.

Respecting others, as I said in the beginning, leads to being respected. As we spread respect through the world, we improve it. I was at a meeting last night where we were talking about the phenomenon of 'Peak Everything' (see my post of 7/20/09) and I pointed out that Richard Heinberg (who wrote a book on the subject) says there are quite a few things that aren't peaking and are not going to peak. Most are intangibles like community and ingenuity. It occurs to me that respect is one of those things as well. The more of it you give out, the more of it there will be. Truly we can create an abundance of respect.

Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People--The fifth habit is to "Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood", which I think is the way respect should work; people who feel understood often feel respected
Sana Farid, "Respect"--An essay on the importance of respect in negotiations and peace making
Rick Garlikov, "Disrespect and Disproportionate Retaliation"--A look at the consequences of not giving others respect
RespectResearchGroup--A European group of scientists and researchers studying the topics of respect and disrespect

Quote of the Day: "Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect." - U Thant

No comments: