Respect

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Here are a couple more notes on respect: 

From McKenzie

The thing is, respecting someone doesn't mean you have to agree with everything they say or think. You can disagree, but when you respect them it means you don't devalue them because of their beliefs, values, and boundaries. Whenever one person's wants or opinions become more important than who another person is, this is disrespect. As you know, disrespect happens pretty often, especially when it comes to sex. Someone may feel that they need to have sex in order to be accepted, like their friends will tell them "you're not man enough" or "you're not a good girlfriend" if you're not having sex. Honestly, this is pretty sad, and just plain not true. Again, if anyone is having to compromise a core belief in order to be liked or accepted, they're not being respected. Learning you look outside yourself and focus on other people is a big part of maturity. 

 

The first time I (McKenzie) was in a relationship I was so naïve and I decided to date this person even though our values, beliefs, and boundaries just did not match up.  He was truly a good person and he desperately wanted to respect me, but the dissonance between our lack of shared values and the pressure of a relationship made it hard for respect to be present. The thing is, I was very loyal and honest, but that was not enough when I was not being respected. Eventually, because he is a good guy he realized the best thing he could do for me was to break up with me. It hurt, but I was so thankful. It was a true sign of respect. 

From Margarette 

Sometimes I start to think I'm more important than I actually am. 
And hey, don't get me wrong--I'm really important. 

 

But the truth is, everyone is really important. And where I go wrong is in thinking that I am somehow more important than someone else, that my needs, my values, my boundaries, the things that I want, are more valid or more valuable than someone else's. 

It isn't hard to imagine why respect matters so much. We've all heard "Respect Each Other!" and understand, at least to a point, what that means. But if we're being honest, do we see a lot of respect in our society? Do we see a lot of respect on social media? This is especially important right now, when basically the majority of life is happening via the internet. So what does it actually look like to respect each other? Seriously, if you were asked to come up with a definition for respect, what would you say? Could you define it? 


The dictionary says that respect is "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements." But does that mean we shouldn't respect someone that doesn't seem to be very talented, or who hasn't "achieved" much by someone else's standards? Another definition is "due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others," and that seems closer to what's important. The definition we use at the Reality Project is simple: to respect someone is to treat them like they're important, like they're valuable, like they matter. For me, it means showing those around me (even if I don't know them very well) that, even if we disagree, the things they believe--their rights, their traditions, their boundaries, their values--are just as important as the things I believe. 

Sometimes people say, "I only respect people who respect me," or, "I expect people to earn my respect." Of course, not everyone acts like they deserve to be respected all the time. (If you're curious, here's a link to a story about why I'm not a bully anymore.)

 

Here's why it's important, how we know that everyone should be treated in a kind and respectful way. 

1. Every person is unique. No one is the same exact as anyone else, which means that each of us is irreplaceable. I'll say it again--you are irreplaceable. Think about it--if something cannot be replaced, that makes it really valuable. It's one-of-a-kind, priceless. So each one of us has something unique and valuable to offer the world. You can offer the world something that literally no one else can, and that mattersYou are important.

2. I don't know anyone who's stopped being a bully because people were mean right back to them. Even if someone disrespects us, it's never the right response to be unkind or disrespectful back. Now to be clear, this doesn't mean being a doormat--being kind and being nice are not always the same thing. But there's a respectful way to stand up for yourself and a disrespectful way, and taking the high road and being the bigger person is *usually* harder and *always* better. 


Here's the main point: Why do I care about you when I don't even know you? Why do I care to do this job? Well, I care to live in a society where people are able to be as whole and healthy and happy as it's possible to be. I care that we leave that kind of society behind for the generations that will follow ours. There are some things we do that make reality closer to that dream, and some things we do that take us farther away from that dream.

What keeps us from getting there:

  1. Treating people like they're just bodies and not whole people. Porn does this, for example--like when you watch it, are you thinking about who someone really is? What their childhood was like, or what their favorite sport is, or whether they get along with their parents. No. Probably not. You might wonder how they got there--but doesn't that assume "being there" isn't ideal? Every actor is someone's kid, someone's girlfriend, someone's best friend. think about it.

Honestly, I've gotten stuck in that trap where I start to treat people like I am more important than they are, or like my boundaries and thoughts are more valuable or valid than theirs are. And I didn't stop acting that way because people were mean right back to me. When they were kind to me because they saw my value even though I wasn't acting much like I had any, that's what changed something in me that made me want to be different.