Of late, I have been wondering about what is it that makes a person respect another person. By this I don’t mean the respect every human should have towards every living being (or maybe even non-living objects). That is a type of a passive respect that is expected from every human.
My question about respect is directed towards the active variety where a person respects another person for some reason which is more than just for being alive.
We respect certain people for certain reasons. And mostly, we don’t even realize whether or not we are offering our respect to the person who actually deserves it. The following are some of the reasons for which we tend to respect (or at least pretend to respect) certain people.
Age – This is one of the most common reasons for someone to show respect to another person. It is almost taken for granted that someone who has seen more years in life automatically deserves to be respected. But at times, even older people have certain flaws which make them undeserving to receive respect. Can a person who mistreats his or her children or other younger family members be deserving respect ? So, age cannot be the single criterion for respect.
Experience – This factor, though somewhat related to age, is another reason why people are respected. People tend to learn from more experienced persons, and hence, respect those who are more experienced. But can mere experience make a person deserving enough to get respect ? Can a highly experienced policeman who accepts bribes and drinks while on duty be respected by a newly recruited policeman ?
Knowledge – Another factor which determines whether or not a person gets respect from others. A person may be highly qualified and educated but may still not be deserving enough to receive respect. An abusive teacher or a selfish scientist may both be highly educated, but they cannot be respected only because of their academic achievements.
Wisdom – This is one factor that is closest to being the best reason for any person to be respected. It actually shows a person’s ability to put both experience and knowledge to the best of use. But can a person be respected who instead of using his wisdom for constructive activities uses it for destructive purposes ? Some of our politicians are the best examples.
Position – Or hierarchy is another common reason why some people respect others superior to them. It is mostly, if not always, the norm to respect the boss or senior even if he or she is the most abusive person around. Even gross incapabilities of being a civilized human being are overlooked while giving (or pretending to give) respect to a superior. But is such a respect really deserved ?
Fear – Finally, people tend to respect others out of fear. It is usually money-power or muscle-power which scares people into respecting those who possess it. It is very common to find students respecting their seniors (who ragged them) out of fear. And don’t we see wealthy people being given special respect in various situations ? Such type of respect is probably the worst amongst the reasons for respecting someone.
But what people often forget is that it is the character of an individual that enables him or her to command respect from others. A person may not be wealthy, or highly educated, or elderly by age, or strong physically. But it is his or her behavior with others and the power of his or her character that truly makes a person really deserving of receiving respect from others. A person with impeccable character and good behavior towards others will always command respect irrespective of any other reason.