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On Respect -- How It's the Most Important Value Between Humans

Updated: 2 days ago

(Reminder: My "personal opinion" doesn't matter often. What matters is whether something is true or not. That's how philosophy is).


Respect occurs when you have a positive estimation of something or someone, that allows you to give them the importance they deserve; AKA, in accordance to their "place" or "position". Human rights and civil rights exist because many of us respect humans, AKA, estimate them positively enough, to support having said rights not only to ourselves, but to others, as well. And for appreciating human rights, we need basic respect, which I will explain below.

(Note: Respect can be done merely in behavior, AKA in action. It's one of the reasons masking exist in fields such as customer service. I'd prefer that we respect in belief as well, but that is beyond my control.)

A tyranny does not have enough respect for human beings, and that what allows it to oppress them so easily. Respect is a barrier, a restraint, a filter. And people who are filterless, and never restrain themselves, can be regarded as either impulsive, stupid, or sociopaths (for the sociopathic have little to no regard to the violation of other's rights).

A respectful person will attempt to make their respect known to the respected upon interaction. They would:

  1. Avoid cussing them.

  2. Avoid invading their privacy.

  3. Never murder, torture, kidnap or **** them.

  4. Never manhandle them (unless absolutely necessary, or it's by consent, like in intercourse).

  5. Avoid threathening their safety.

  6. Avoid mocking them or laughing at them. That includes insults (calling a professional philosopher, irrational, for example, is improper. On the other hand, the philosopher should not be insulted when they are explained why something they said or wrote, is irrational. There is no need for ad-hominem).

  7. Apologize when not avoiding any of the points in this specific list.

  8. Not act arrogant on purpose.

  9. Will not betray their trust, when that trust has been built. By "trust", I refer to betrayal, and not necessarily to dissapointment (a feeling which is beyond our control).

  10. At least try to fulfill any promise they make. If they fail, they would apologize.

  11. Will not undermine their importance (AKA, treat them like earth beneath their foot).

  12. Will criticize, but not as an "attack". AKA, not with the intention of threathening them. No one needs to be offended by a well-intended critique.

  13. Will not only be aware of the respected's strengths, but mind their weaknesses. It's very important, because it can help you speak to them in a way that's more proper individually. However, the other points are important, as well.

  14. Will make sure to show the other person when they are disrespected, themselves.

  15. And finally: Will not overwhelm the other person (Yell at them constantly and/or continously, flood them with text messages, etc.)

  16. Bonus: Show gratefulness when given a good service or be done a favor. Any favor, as that is done voluntarily by the other side.

Different people have different demands for respect, in accordance to their position in society. In contemporary times, however, that demand can easily be ignorned by countless, with little to no regard. Thus, even people of high regard, like monarchs, may be disrespected by their own subjects. And it is all because there aren't usually any written rules that prevent them from doing so.

That includes in other societies as well, and between citizens and themsevles. In some countries, like Israel, political leaders may disrespect each other constantly, and thus, serve an improper example to their own citizens. That even includes those who do not support them.

And in general, the culture of being a gentleman is nowadays considered to be either too archaic or cringey in our world. And men, at least, who want to be gentlemen, may be mocked as neckbeards (which are not real gentlemen, ironically). It is also ironic because a true gentleman, man or woman, puts respect in high regard. It's imperative, actually, for one to become such.

Basic respect should be strived to exist towards all human beings. That's because it is perhaps the most elementary approach as moral beings. Those who have universal basic respect, will avoid treating anyone they don't know, like trash, just because they are strangers. Exiting the tribal mindset of respecting only those within the people we know, could have the power to make the world a lot less toxic. Basic respect is simply this: estimating people positively without much necessary reasoning.

I believe that respect is one of the most priceless things in life. Even if you are wealthy or well-known, money cannot buy you the respect of others. Rather, respect is earned through recognition and achievements that serve as proof to give people a good enough reason to not only dedicate some of their time for you, but also to appreciate you throughout the attention they choose to give you. The same goes for disrespect, as people may intentionally or unintentionally give others reasons to disrespect them as well.

Prostitution is mostly sexual, and there are even people whom you pay to be friends with you. However, I have yet to hear of a job whose entire purpose is to make people praise or at least respect you to a degree. There may be jobs that do just that, but I am talking about the notion of giving respect as a major element in that job, not something that is earned through recognition, which is something that may happen regardless if you are being paid or not.

Here are some additional thoughts on respect:

  • Respect is a two-way street. It is important to give respect in order to receive it.

  • Respect that is more than basic, is to be earned. It is not something that can be demanded or taken for granted. You won't necessarily be respected just because you're a writer. You have to prove yourself in your writing career.

  • Respect is important in all relationships, both personal and professional.

  • Respect is essential for a healthy and productive society.

  • Not all people deserve the respect they might think they have. Such people can be considered as lowlives. I, for instance, have no respect for physical abusers, and intend to keep them away from my life as much as I can.

We can learn from the value of respect that there are still things in the world that cannot be bought with money. Respect is one of them. You may be rich, academically educated, and so forth, but neither wealth nor degree can earn you the respect of others if you act like a total douchebag with an ungrateful, disrespectful attitude towards the world.

People may disagree with your points of view, but they will still respect you if you act in a civilized, polite, and appreciative manner. This is something that cannot be bought with money either, but is usually learned from your family, your environment, or your own wisdom.

Respect is one of the things you can do to influence the environment you are in, in a world where you cannot necessarily control the entities that are included within. It is something that you can acquire through your behavior, and use to make people more convinced of your points of view. This influence can be implemented without using manipulation, threats, or intimidation, which are not used in the name of respect and tolerance, but in the name of fear and anxiety.

By the way, let us not confuse self-respect with arrogance. Andrew Stott, for example, the Emperor of Stomaria can be regarded as arrogant for declining an invitation to the micronational meeting, MicroCon. However, since he saw no benefit of attending that meeting, it can be reasonable that he was too self-respecting to attend a meeting that is filled with a lot of parodic political leaders. He simply was too serious than them, and eventually declared Stomaria an "actual nation", rather than a micronation.

Why would a serious figure associate themselves with people who don't take their mantle seriously?

(I guess it was reasonable to deem him arrogant at the time, but I digress.)

We can conclude that by behaving respectfully towards each other, even if our views are very different, we can often make people tolerate our views and open the door to potential cooperation in the future. This can be done without the need for oppression, making such tactics unnecessary.

Of course, there will always be those who are disrespectful to us, regardless of our efforts.

These people are not worth our attention, as they are only interested in disrespecting us and will not change their behavior. Since it is impossible to please everyone, we should not let the disrespect of a few bring us down, especially if we have done nothing wrong.

Life is full of interactions, especially online, that can affect us and vice versa. We should choose our interactions wisely and avoid those who are unwilling to show us at least basic respect, regardless of the reason. Ultimately, respecting ourselves is defined by how we live our lives. We can do this by pursuing activities that are worthy of our time and by not spending too much time and energy with those who are ungrateful and intolerant.

Final note: We have no control over another's interpretation of our behavior, and thus a state of pure respect will never be possible. However, it is possible to reduce incorrect interpretations. In addition, some aspects of respect are subjective. However, basic respect, arguably, isn't.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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