The Virtue of Respect
“There is a longing among all people to have a sense of
purpose and worth. To satisfy that common longing in
all of us we must respect each other.” – Chief Dan George
According to the Virtues Project (1), Respect is an attitude of caring about people and treating each person with dignity. It is valuing both others and ourselves. Self-respect is making sure no one takes advantage of you or abuses you. Respectful people truly listen to others – are patient and considerate – are courteous and polite – care about the rights of others – and, in author Tom Morris’s words, are interested in “creating a climate of goodness” wherever they are.
Roget’s Thesaurus lists many antonyms to Respect. Chief among these are disrespect of oneself and others and being rude. According to the Canadian newspaper, the Calgary Herald, rudeness is on the rise. Writer Joe Sornberger gives 12 examples of contemporary rudeness. Here are five of them:
– Taking a cell phone or Blackberry call when you are in the middle of a face-to-face conversation, unless it is a family emergency.
– Cutting into a queue in any venue.
-Cancelling your acceptance of an invitation because a better offer arrives.
-Showing up at one social occasion and remarking you would rather be at another one.
Canadian media personality, Rex Murphy, suggested that the basic premise of rudeness is the belief that “I alone count, and you are not even here.”
Respect is connected to the “Golden Rule” – the principle of treating others as you want to be treated. It can be found in the Bible, in St. Matthew’s Gospel (7:12). Jesus said of its importance: “it sums up the law and the prophets.”
Consider the Golden Rule in relation to the coronavirus. Writer Warren Harbeck designed what he calls, “The COVID Rule” – “Wear a mask to protect others as you would have them wear a mask to protect you.”
Respect is a dimension of Love. Those in society who object to wearing a mask in public during the pandemic or to keep social distancing because they feel it’s a violation of their personal liberty need to be reminded that greater than any personal preoccupation is Love: love of God and love of neighbor.
St. Paul puts it quite clearly in his First Letter to the Corinthians (13:13, 4-6): “There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love”…..Love is patient, love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. Love is never rude (the opposite of respect); it is not self-seeking. It is not prone to anger, neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices with the truth.”
(1) The Virtues Project is a global grassroots initiative to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life. See at virtuesproject.com