Yes, Together We Can
by (Capt) Ravi K Mahajan


21. RESPECT - SELF RESPECT & DISRESPECT

 

Respecting and being Respected, is something everyone craves for. One can do without money, power, glory but not without Respect.

Strongest of all Human Emotional Needs, is seeking and getting Respect. It is much stronger than all the other human emotions put together – Love, Trust, Faith Dependability, Compassion or Forgiveness etc. What food does to the body, respect does the same to the soul. If you ask the biggest and most important human virtue, undoubtedly, it is RESPECT, being respected by someone or respecting someone.

 

When we talk of respect, as in the above paragraph, this respect comes from the giver’s heart. Our subject of discussion is this genuine true respect which is heartfelt. You can feel this genuine true respect by the other person’s body language. There is another kind which more or less, is related with money, power and authority. Origin of this respect is not from heart but, often, one is forced to fake it, though he does not like but have to exhibit more out of compulsion, than anything else. Frankly, people have to do it for the satisfaction of the receiver, who gets the respect because of his high position, wealth, power or influence. This respect is mostly demanded.

 

So the origin of both types of respect is either heart or brain. The respect, origin of which is heart, is genuine and is commanded while the other respect whose origin is brain, is mostly forced and is demanded. Since the origins are different, so is people’s body language and other attributes while giving them. Former one is spontaneous while the second one is forced. In the former, it matters little whether what position person to be respected holds, while in the second one, the person must hold high position. And the moment he loses that position, respect also goes. Most of our present day politicians and leaders belong to the second category. The moment they lose the chair, respect which comes mostly from those under them, hangers on or sycophants, also goes. No wonder, our leaders cling to the power in spite of their age or resentment from lower order.

 

You cannot ask to be genuinely or truly respected, neither order anyone, old or young, to respect you. This respect is something you command. Though everyone wants to be respected and treated with respect, one cannot demand this genuine respect coming from someone’s heart. Respect is the greatest and most cherished gift one person can give to another. Being respected by others, family members, community members, or in the business, professional or social circles, brings great happiness, immense joy and satisfaction to the recipient. It elevates the receiver’s status in the eyes of those, who are watching and is a great value addition to one’s life.

 

Unfortunately, in our society, money and respect go together. More money, wealth and power one has, more respectful one becomes. Through different ways, he tries to get respect to show to his kins, how much respected he is. Since having money, brings respect, there is mindless pursuit for making more and more money. In this quest and race, what matter is how much money one has, and, perhaps, nothing else. How it has been made, does not seem to matter. Only the end matters.

 

Unfortunately, this has been going on from time immemorial. More wealth one has, more respectful one becomes. And such people are very ‘touchy’ in matters of respect. One often sees all sorts of scenes created by wealthy people during functions, who think proper respect has not been given to them. Not necessarily that they shall retaliate directly or openly, but sometimes, the retaliation is in very oblique and unexpected manner, which many times, bring in revenge.

 

Human crave for respect becomes more with age, position, power or clout. A minister’s name precedes with “Honorable,” while a judge is addressed as “Your Honor” or “Highness”, to make them feel respected. How much respect is shown to a person, is also an indicator or direction to others, how they have to treat him. Respect has to be demonstrative. Governments have acceptable protocols in place and go to great lengths that they are adhered to, so that no dignitary is left with the feeling that he or she has been slighted or have not been given due respect. Other person’s voice, body language or tone etc. are gauged, to judge how much respect is shown.

 

However, the reverse of what is written above, is also true, which is DISRESPECT. Human system is very versatile. It has unlimited resilience – both physical and mental. It can take or withstand anything. But DISRESPECT?. No. Human system can forgive and forget anything but Disrespect. So be careful, extremely careful at that. One act of disrespect – actual or perceived, is enough to destroy a relationship built over a lifetime. Relationships thus broken or affected, can only be restored partly with time and great patience. Unfortunate part is that, even if disrespect is unintentional, it is taken as intentional by human nature, which makes it more difficult to forgive or ignore. Extreme caution is very much required in such sensitive matters.

 

Within the spouses, respect / disrespect is the most delicate area of relationship. An intentional or perceived disrespect, may be pardoned from outside, but mostly, never from the heart, even between couples, who may be having no other problem area in their marriages. Unfortunately, such couples will always remain suspicious and on guard with each other. At any smallest provocation, that earlier act of disrespect, actual or perceived, will be mentioned, even though pardoned earlier. Between the spouses, both actual or perceived disrespect, is countered with rage, anger, envy or suppressed intention of revenge at an appropriate opportunity. Disrespect is mental equivalent of physical battering, much worse at that.

 

When it is matter of respect or disrespect, our mind, intuitively, becomes highly sensitive. Any situation, where there is slight chance of intentional or perceived disrespect, can cause untold misunderstanding and mental agony and can turn your closest friend or relative against you. Being ignored individually, or someone else given more respect, not being welcomed in the expected right manner, being rude or not being spoken properly or not being addressed properly, what you say or your comments taken lightly or what is said, not given proper weight-age, being impolite, not answering properly or cut off in the middle of the sentence, being made fun  of in front of others, monopolizing the conversation etc. are few of the common instances of disrespect shown to another person. 

 

I remember some instances of disrespects or insults clearly and vividly, even after 40 years after their happening like it was yesterday. Though I have always been preaching on the principal of forgive, forget and move ahead in life, honestly, though  I have forgiven each one of the perpetrators and moved far ahead, but have not been able to forget those instances, howsoever, meaningless they might appear now.

 

However, in some cases, disrespect or insult, can be a great motivator also. Indian Independence became first priority of Gandhi ji’s life, only after he was greatly insulted  in South Africa, when he was thrown out of the first class railway compartment, in spite of having a first class ticket, just because of the color of his skin. Rest is history.

 

And history is replete with such examples, where entire kingdoms or people, subjugated and insulted by another kingdom or race, have risen against their oppressors in unison. Irrespective of how much hypothetical it might sound, people of our country rose as one against the British Empire, because the disrespect and insult meted out to people in general by the British. Had they treated our countrymen with due respect as they were treating their own people, history of our country and the world, might have been quite different. That’s how, Commonwealth has come into being, wherein all nations howsoever big or small, they are treated with due respect. Hence, in day to day handling of people or building relationships, one has to be extremely cautious and careful to trudge upon this sensitive human sensibility of respect or disrespect.

 

Now, we come to SELF RESPECT, which is an inner core feeling. When we know we have the qualities, we develop self respect for our selves, directly in proportion to those qualities. Self respect is the foundation of a good human being. Self respect comes naturally to us, when we do good things like helping others, compassion, kindness, commitment etc. Self respect keeps us away from bad things and also would keep us away from the company of undesirable elements. As a saying goes, one is known by the company he keeps, one will always chose his company carefully, if one is self respecting. A self respecting person shall not be seen in the company of bad or undesirable elements. 

 

Even small children want to be treated with respect. I have often seen even small children, when not treated with proper respect, questioning their parents about the unfair treatment meted out to them. Many times, parents are put to avoidable embarrassment in front of outsiders. Children who are brought up in families, where mutual respect is the watch word and are shown and treated with much respect and also addressed in respectful manner, definitely, fare better than those not brought up in that kind of atmosphere. That is why, you can easily guess about the upbringing of a person by his behavior, his mannerism and by his conduct.  A person who is arrogant, disrespectful or indulging in actions unbecoming of his stature, his disdainful habits can be traced to his faulty upbringing.

 

Observing people, analyzing their behavior, understanding them under various situations created by them intentionally or unintentionally, has been my passion in last fifty years. You may call it human craving, weakness or wish that people like to be proved right or acknowledged as being right. During a discussion or argument, you can see that on their faces. No one can hide that expression of elation or desolation on the face of winner or loser. Its human nature wanting to be understood, viewpoint honoured and respected. Too often, people trying to win an insignificant argument, hurt others, spoiling relationships nurtured for years with love and care. Sometimes, issues are so trivial but we tend to flow with the flow and somehow, win the argument. We cannot overcome that urge which harms us in the long run. Try and win over people by losing the argument, by letting them enjoy the feel of a winner. You will, thus, be a winner in the long run and a very likeable figure.

 

Much details are written in the lesson on ‘Childhood and Parenting’ in this book. Parents reading this book must ensure that they adopt these lessons on themselves, as well as instill the qualities of self respect, treating others with respect and then only expecting others to respect them, in their children. Respect is a two way traffic, not a single lane traffic. Respect is always mutual.

 

Positive effects of mutual respect are very significant in everyone’s mind. We must understand that by treating others with due respect, we enhance our own prestige in everyone’s eyes. As in all other cases, treating others with respect becomes a good habit, which pays you rich dividends in life. Moreover, it definitely adds to your own feel good factor. Your leadership is also easily accepted and helps you becoming a magnetic personality attracting others. By being respectful to others, speaking kindly and respectfully, you only add stature to your personality. It costs you nothing but you can have colossal gains without any significant efforts.

 

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In Life, Perseverance brings Accomplishment.

 

Never Give up. Never, never, never.

 

If at first you don’t Succeed, Try, Try again.


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