“Respect isn’t given. It’s earned.”
I completely agree with this statement with the caveat that we’re talking about individuals and their personal merits as they interact directly with me.
|And the crowd goes respectful|
If we’re talking about race or religion or socio-economic status, gender, or sexual orientation then no one should need to "earn" respect. Respect should be a given based on their race, religion, or sexual preference, socio-economic status etc. out of the gate. Just as you or I shouldn’t haven’t to defend color, creed, gender, etc. others, other human beings, should be entitled to your respect as, you know, a decent, fellow being travelling on the same planet. Until they, individually, prove otherwise and then, as FitzWilliam Darcy put it, “My good opinion, once lost is lost forever.” For that individual alone. We ought not commit the fallacy of generalization based on one person's or one small group's actions.
I see no reason to mock someone before they've "earned" my respect because they're different. What would that serve? A quick guffaw at the expense of someone else's self-esteem? I like to think most people generally don't want to be challenged to prove their worth just because they're strangers who look different or believe different things. Racism exists because one group holds another to arbitrary standards based on generalizations. Racism has everything to do with not respecting the individual and extending that out to the group as a whole.
Or, as Neil Gaiman put it:
|Respect the hair!|
I was reading a book (about interjections, oddly enough) yesterday which included the phrase “In these days of political correctness…” talking about no longer making jokes that denigrated people for their culture or for the colour of their skin. And I thought, “That’s not actually anything to do with ‘political correctness’. That’s just treating other people with respect.”
Which made me oddly happy. I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase “politically correct” wherever we could with “treating other people with respect”, and it made me smile.
You should try it. It’s peculiarly enlightening.
I know what you’re thinking now. You’re thinking “Oh my god, that’s treating other people with respect gone mad!”
Welcome to the human race.