Respect: Given or Earned?

There are many ways to garner respect in western civilization. Generally the attitude is that respect must be earned. If we do not know someone, it is easier to respect them if we at least know about their accomplishments. Experience brings maturity and that’s easy to tell when you begin to talk or listen to a person. In western culture, we all have a basic respect for each other, we all can agree on foundational rights and we won’t consciously impede those rights. But real respect goes further than that. If we really have respect, we can listen to a stranger and let foreign opinions enter into our thought process.

Respect is not only giving someone your attention, but your loyalty. Many people will not give you loyalty until you have proven yourself to them. This is safe. It assumes you will hurt them until you prove otherwise. What if we assumed people were here to help? We’re open and vulnerable that way. That’s hard. Is it necessary or even smart?

My instinct is to trust people first, but I’m an optimist. I’ve been hurt before, but it hasn’t happened often and I have learned how to identify hurt before it comes. To simply respect someone, without knowing too much about them is not hard for me. What’s hard is respecting someone who has hurt you. What’s hard is respecting someone who will not respect themselves or others. Try showing courtesy to someone who can / will not show courtesy to anyone else. But that’s where it counts. In a society that has a hard time respecting the disrespectful, how impacting is it when you show a criminal full courtesy?

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