The first definition I read for respect was a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements with synonyms of esteem, regard, high opinion reverence, or honor. So what are these traits that merit respect? What is the level to which you must reach to gain respect? What kind of treatment should those who do not have these traits or have not reach the appropriate level be given? It seems a society of the haves and have nots.
A second article talked about what we had been taught as children about respect. We were to respect parents, teachers, and elders, school and traffic rules, family and cultural traditions, other people’s feelings and rights, our country’s flag and leaders, the truth, and people’s differing opinions. But this, too, left a lot of people out. All those born after us would always be younger. Secondly, besides the truth and differing opinions, what is that warrants respect by these various individuals or categories and who decides? Lastly, where does oneself fit in the scheme of respect? I guess those younger than us, will see us as elders, but that will never happen with someone older. Many of us will not be identified in one of those categories above. Certainly the word self-respect comes up enough.
I have been of the belief that everyone and everything needs to be treated with respect. We are all human and live on one earth with animals, plants and all other living creatures. On the urban dictionary, others have agreement with me. Here are some examples of what they believe about respect.
To show regard to another person with acknowledgement, politeness, and consideration.
It means valuing each other’s points of view.
It means accepting people as they are and not dissing them because they are different from you.
It means being kind always because being kind is not negotiable.
A value that once thrived but has nearly been eradicated in the name of free speech and expressing one’s self.
Learning to respect people’s efforts, abilities, opinions and quirks.
I would like to share an example of how this definition of respect works. For many years I co-facilitated a group of children, ages 6-12 who were affected by a parent’s alcohol or drug addiction. We had them attend 2 six week sessions. These were children who had experienced many incidents of humiliation. We provided a few simple rules of how we would all be treated in the group. We listened to what they said. We asked them questions. We shared in activities. We gave them praise. We were never critical, but tried to help them find some alternative ways to handle situations. Parents reported improved behavior while their child participated in group. I believe only one child did not finish the group because he was asked not to return. His uncontrolled violent behavior made it not safe for the other children. Our respect for each of those children made a difference. They were able to follow our example and treat each other respectfully, they were able to share some difficult feelings, and they were able to show respect to others outside the group context.
While there were many suggestions of how we can show respect, here are a few that I thought would be helpful.
Orlaine I. Gabert
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