politeness, honour, and care shown towards someone or something that is considered importantCambridge dictionary
When I was young, all the people I came into contact with were “ordinary” people, just getting on with their lives. I didn’t think surviving to adulthood was anything that commanded respect, so I didn’t see why I should respect them just because they were older than me.
More recently I’ve been faced with a barrage of media coverage of politicians and assorted celebrities disrespecting both ordinary and extraordinary people, as well as disrespectful media coverage.
So, it seems that attitude has become more prevalent the older I’ve got.
The Philosophy of People
Since my childhood, I’ve read some of Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. He’s not my favourite Philosopher (very hard reading and deeply religious), but his belief that we should treat people as ends in themselves, not as a means to our own ends, is one of my favourite concepts.
That is; people are not tools for us to use as we wish, but are people just like us. They deserve the same level of care and attention we want for ourselves. They have the right to go about their lives, achieving their dreams, without undue interference from us.
Or, if you’re that way inclined – who are god’s children just like you, and are loved by him, just as much as you.
Who People Are
We’re all people. All equal. Probably more equal than animals.
It’s one of the reasons Fascists work so hard to define some groups of people, as not people. And on that basis, attempt to limit their access to rights that they as people are permitted.
And by some groups, I mean, women, coloured people, some religions, non-cis, the establishment, educated people, people who immigrated, and capitalists. There’s probably more I’ve forgotten.
But, pretty much anyone who doesn’t share their skin colour, nationality, socio-economic background, and general feeling of oppression at the hands of those they’ve defined as not people.
Why be Respectful (simple version)
Maybe respectful is a little difficult word to get to grips with, but perhaps considering some synonyms might help: civil, considerate, gracious, humble, polite, well-mannered, regarding, solicitous, or dare I sat it, venerating.
Why be Respectful (less simple versions)
I’ve mentioned before the Perils of Disrespect; that when you disrespect others, they’ll disrespect you right back.
And respect is a form of admiration for those who you know deeply.
How to be Respectful
This is by no means an exhaustive list,
but here are some ideas to be going on with.
Start by remembering we’re all the same. We’re all people. We all want to make a living, spend time with our loved ones, and die having made a difference. Some of us just look and act a little different.
Wherever you are, whoever you’re with, always and ever be polite. Say please and thank you, excuse or pardon me where appropriate, and definitely apologise properly when it’s called for.
Put your phone down and listen when someone’s talking to you. Take time to carefully develop useful responses instead of reacting with anger. Be grateful rather than resentful when someone offers you the opportunity to change your behaviours.
Take responsibility for your actions; don’t blame others, and when something goes wrong, attempt to rectify the situation.
When you borrow things, give them back. That includes personal space and dignity.
If you know someone is having a hard time, stay in touch, even if you can’t do anything to help.
Consider the needs of others when you make decisions. And a fashion example is taking the wages and conditions of garment workers and sales assistants into account in your purchasing decisions. These days you should chuck the environment in the mix too.
The Results of Respect
Is it possible, that if we were all a little more respectful of others, we’d all be a little happier?
We’d all be a little more pleasant to be around, a little less cranky and a little less judgemental?