Hmmm...Can't Get No Respect? 




Have you noticed that this topic comes up pretty often these days?  We have.  Seems more and more people are becoming concerned about whether or not they are being respected.


So...we wondered what's really going on here.


As we often do, let's start with a definition:


Respect: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements;  the state of being admired or respected.


Based on that definition, respect looks pretty desirable.  In which case, folks might well want to get respect.


Take Muslims Jihadists, for example.  They feel pretty strongly about respect.  They want respect for their religion and for their sacred text, the Koran.  In fact, it seems they can become rather murderous, when they don't get the respect they insist on.  There's that thing called a Jihad. which apparently refers to "struggle," though some have extended into "holy war."  Now, from what we understand, not all Islamists are that concerned about this issue of "respect" and "jihad," but it seems that some who've killed other folks (e.g., killed Americans) have justified it on the basis of "lack of respect" for their religions and/or religious leaders.




Add to this the congressman who decided it was good to shut down the Federal Government in October of 2013, because of lack of respect ( Congressman, Newt Gingrich, gave a very similar reason for shutting down the government during the Clinton Presidency)



And then take those who are very angry here in the US about immigrants who came here illegally.  They tell us that the problem is, these folks don't respect our laws.  So we should either put them in jail, or kick them out, because they are, after all, illegal.


There may be other examples of concern about not getting respect, but we'll stop with these.





So the question is: Do folks sometimes use (perhaps even misuse) the notion of respect to explain, justify or rationalize what they do?  And if so, why?


We're not mind readers, and we don't (as yet) know of any research that answers these questions.  But we think they are important.  We think answering them might tell us what's really going on with all this emphasis on respect.


Where does that leave us?


We do have a few thoughts about respect, especially in terms of where it comes from.


Respect from others: This appears to be the kind of respect that we discussed above.  Basically, it means something like this: "I (or we) want you to respect me (or us)."


Were we to guess at this point, we would think that maybe all this need for respect from others indicates some insecurity on the part of the person.


And we wonder why anyone would want to give so much power to others?  Why let the question of whether others give respect have such a negative effect?


Have to earn respect from others: This appears to be the "common sense," or "conventional wisdom" concerning respect from others as in "You (singular, or plural) have to earn my (our). respect.


BUT (and this is a big "but") this means we have to accept other folks standards for respect--it means we have to earn that respect the way they tell us to earn it.  That gives a lot of power to others.



Self Respect: It occurs to us that self-respect might be more important than getting respect from others.  We think of this, because it often seems that for some, getting respect from others is more important than having self-respect, almost as if they need that external validation before they can have internal self-validation.


We do know that psychologists have looked at this topic, and there is some thought that self-respect is more important than self-esteem, that it's better to have a positive view toward who and what you are, than to like yourself, because self-respect involves self acceptance, where self-esteem is more about liking yourself.


If you'd like to read more about this.


If we are correct about the need and value of self-respect, it suggests the more self-respect we have the less important respect from others becomes (we might still value it, but in the end not care if it's not there).


Respect for others: Finally, we wonder how much respect we give others.  We wonder if those who demand respect also give respect.  In other words, is this just a one way street for some?



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