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Notes on the value of respect

Mary Frentzou
e-mail: marifrent@yahoo.com


Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts? (Confucius)

  • Much of the universal values and virtues that contribute to the good of the individual and society and affirm our human dignity are derived from the value of respect and the value of responsibility.
  • Respect means showing regard and appreciation for the worth of someone or something.
  • It means honour and esteem.
  • Respect means caring for other living things and the earth (animals, plants, the environment).
  • Respect means obeying the rules, laws, and customs of your family, faith, community, and country.
  • Respect means honouring other people's wants, needs, ideas, differences, beliefs, customs, and heritage.
  • It includes respect for self, respect for the rights and dignity of all persons, and respect for the environment that sustains life.

Respect means being thoughtful of or showing regard for another person or thing. Respect also includes treating everyone

and everything, including yourself with dignity. When you show yourself respect it is called self-respect. Self-respect is what allows a person to act in positive ways and to stand up to harmful or hurtful actions.

We are all different. We look different. Some of us come from different cultures. Some of us are able to do things other people cannot. It is important for all of us to treat each other respectfully despite our differences, as we all have similar needs and feelings.

To know one’s worth and to honour the worth of others is the true way to earn respect. Respect is an acknowledgement of the inherent worth and innate rights of the individual and the collective. These must be recognized as the central focus to draw from people a commitment to a higher purpose in life.

Respect begins within the individual. One experiences self-respect through the consciousness of knowing "who I am", the faith on one’s self, the completeness within and the self-realization.

To develop the value of respect within the self and towards the others is a challenge. Obstacles are encountered in everyday life and self-confidence is needed to deal with the circumstances in a self assured manner.

We need respect to collaborate and to live in a peaceful world.

The way one shows respect varies, but its essence is the display of regard for the worth of people, including oneself. We have no ethical duty to hold all people in high esteem or admire them, but we are morally obligated to treat everyone with respect, regardless of who they are and what they have done. We have a responsibility to be the best we can be in all situations, even when dealing with unpleasant people.

Respect focuses on the moral obligation to honour the essential worth and dignity of the individual. Respect prohibits violence, humiliation, manipulation and exploitation. It reflects notions such as civility, courtesy, dignity, autonomy, tolerance and acceptance.