There is this notion that “respect must be earned.” I’ve heard this all of my life and have pretty much always fallen in line with that thinking. However, the older I get the more I realize that this is NOT the way things should be. The english language is tricky because we tend to use a singular word to describe multiple things. Most people will say the word “respect” in exchange for the word “admire”, which causes a fallacy in the idea that “respect must be earned.”
Respect in its most basic form means to show consideration or to have regard for others. Respect is simply common decency. It’s the basic idea of the Golden Rule: treating others the way you want to be treated. With this in mind, why would anyone have to earn your respect?
Who are you? What makes you sooooo wonderful that you have the right to withhold your respect from people? Did the queen die, and leave you the crown? No? Well ok, let’s put this idea to rest. Every person breathing God’s air deserves respect. Sure, certain people will earn your admiration, but every person should be treated with dignity and respect.
As our culture becomes increasingly detached from flesh and bone relationships and spend more of their time communicating through a screen, the more I see respect deteriorate. We are quickly losing the ability to dignify people with our respect. Think about it like this: who deserves disrespect? While you may have list ready, please know that the truest answer is no one. Women deserve to walk down the street without being harassed. Black folks deserve to get home safely after an encounter a police officer. People with disabilities shouldn’t have to deal with discrimination, and the list goes on.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” Philippians 2:3, New International Version.
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