Another Unpopular Opinion
By Sharon Arnolda Ceylon Today Features
Respect: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. - oxford dictionary. Hear me out; people give out respect based on an opinion they have of a group of people and don’t necessarily consider whether the individual itself is deserving of respect. This has been taught to us since our childhood, adults, clergy, politicians, teachers and so and so forth deserve respect, it’s more of a command and it’s not something we really question, its mentioned in all the “holy texts” and preached in every religious place; some people are respected; just because.
Here’s the problem:
While we are blindly respecting these people who are “deserving of respect” some such people are making the most of it and unfortunately not in a nice way. The news is full of incidents where individuals such as teachers and clergy have taken advantage of their position and caused irreparable damage to the children they demand this respect from. While this alone is alarming, what’s worse is that the actions of these individuals don’t really create a dent in the respect “owed” to such individuals; we still respect all these people; just because.
Well, the concept of respect is pretty misinterpreted. A prerequisite for having respect for someone is to have “a feeling of deep admiration” for them; but the question is, do we really admire these people or are we just forced to give into their entitlement. And if we don’t, do we disrespect them? This is where the concepts of politeness and “mutual respect” come into play. Let me explain; mutual respect is when both parties respect each other; and this should ideally be a concept we are brought up with, you respect the people that respect you as a human being and be polite to the rest of them. To be human is to have the ability to relate to each other on a human level; and in doing so there is a level of mutual respect we owe to each other, regardless of who or what we are, but any respect beyond that is something I personally believe you need to earn.
How many times have we had to sit through adults disrespecting children and their entire being, where children are not really given an option but to sing or dance for people, even when they clearly don’t want to do it; sometimes it’s cute, sometimes it’s really disrespectful. Are adults ever told to ask a child for permission before approaching them or giving them a hug? They seem to think they are entitled to it. Think about it, the very basic unit of life, the family. Children are taught to respect their parents and parents are entitled to respect from their children but aren’t really focused on respecting them back.
Why should this change?
Anyone walking around thinking they deserve a level of respect simply because they belong to a certain section of society is seriously dangerous, its unnecessary entitlement. Individuals that are not worthy of respect are being given an important place in society and that’s not the best track record for us as a country. We are so focused on what a group of people do that we don’t accept a person for who they really are but for what they are supposed to be. What’s sad is that this is also how disrespect happens; a group of people are disrespected just because. And even the actions of some people in the group prove otherwise, it changes nothing. If millions of years on earth has taught human kind anything it’s that people are different, unique. And to continue categorising such species into a group and entitle them with something as valuable as respect seems like a bad way to move forward. Rule of thumb: Respect is earned; not given and it’s about time we start acting like it.