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Respect, by definition, is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. As accurate of a description as that is for respect at its highest level, there is a broader, simpler version of respect that too often eludes us in its practice. Respect for wisdom, authority, and just seeing your fellow human being as one’s equal are all things that have dwindled with each successive generation. As the concept of respect becomes less prominent in our society, there are disastrous consequences being brought forth. Individuals must learn to treat one another as equals and show appreciation for crucial individuals in society: thus, learning respect.
Respect starts at home; if parents do not teach their children the value of respect at a young age, then it is likely that individual will not grow up understanding his or her role in society. If a child grows up believing that his or her parents don’t hold any power over them, or if they don’t respect the role that their experience plays in life, arrogance and an unrealistic understanding of their place in the world is capable of setting in rather quickly. Naturally, having such a poor vision of the world can lead to deeper consequences down the line, as the individual attempts to re-learn the societal norms that are associated with respect.
One of the consequences of an inadequate demonstration of the value of respect in the household is that children grow up not treating their peers as equals; their inflated understanding of their own importance alienates them from having a true connection with another person. Further, because their sense of self-worth is skewed, they become more sensitive to perceived threats in order to protect their delusional state of mind that is often challenged by reality. This will, of course, make them very unpleasant and alienate them from their peers to an even greater extent.
Perhaps the most blatant example of common respect in society is in the respect for authority. Individuals find themselves in a position where they are expected to respect their boss, police officers, military personnel, and even the entire government of the United States. While everyone has their own methods of respect; it is not uncommon for individuals to show respect by: speaking politely, utilizing basic manners, thanking them for their service, holding doors open for them, and other small gestures that speak volumes about the deep-rooted respect the individual has for those men and women in uniform.
While unconditional respect for authority is quite debated; it is obvious that respect plays an important role in our society. Throughout history, there have been numerous examples of times where disrespect, even in the simples of forms, leads to chaotic events that have disastrous consequences. Whether it’s the dislike of one’s boss or the disdain for our government, authority is no longer recognized as something that is to be respected and is, instead, more often recognized as something that should be challenged, even if only in private remarks. More often than not, this lack of respect leads to animosity, verbal altercations, physical altercations, resentment, and so many other negative connotations.
Respect is an essential thread in the fabric of a well-functioning society; without it, people go through their lives without fully recognizing the inevitable hierarchies of human nature. Although American culture was built on the refusal to conform, a certain level of conformity is required to have a safe, stable life, and having a population that is generally arrogant and a bit narcissistic leads to a lack of reliability and consistency. On a more personal level, it also leads to a lack of satisfying relationships, a general disposition, and a personality that doesn’t lend itself to professional advancement.
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