Understanding the Spectrum of Respect

27 Feb 2024

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Here is a recent conversation with my co-brother (paraphrased)

Him: Do you respect him?
Me: I respect him for certain qualities. I don’t respect him for certain other qualities.
Him: I understand, but overall, do you respect him?
Me: I don’t know how to answer that question. Do you need an average of the qualities I respect and the qualities I don’t?. If the result is positive, I respect him and if it’s negative I don’t?. Is that what you are looking for?

The conversation did not go anywhere. Both were re-iterating our own version of respecting someone. I failed to make him understand my point, while I consciously did not agree with his viewpoint.

Respect - a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Do you respect a man, who started from nothing and became rich with his hard work?. Do you respect a man who simply inherited all the wealth from his father?. Is there a difference in the levels of respect?

Do you respect a man who is capable of doing bad things, but keep it under control and do good to others?. Do you respect a man who is INCAPABLE doing bad things and thus resorted to being a good man?. Is there a difference in the levels of respect?

Do you respect someone for just being who they are, without any effort on their part? Like being tall or fair. Do you respect someone who stays fit all their life, with a consistent diet and exercise?. Do you respect someone who went from obese to fit with hard work and perseverance and stay fit? Is there a difference in the levels of respect?

When I observe deeply, I begin to understand that we respect people for what they do, instead of what they are. The qualities you are born with, no one cares. The qualities you worked hard to attain, attract respect.

Ok, let’s say you respect someone like your teacher, your friend, your co-workers, or a politician. Have you ever asked this question,

Do I respect all of him/her?

If you are honest with yourself, there will be qualities that you respect, there will be qualities that you can tolerate and there will be qualities that you cannot tolerate (in most cases, very well hidden, everyone has a skeleton in their closet).

Thus respect is a spectrum

[admire]……[tolerate]……[can’t tolerate]

Positive to negative.

Most people that we respect have many good qualities that we admire, some qualities that we tolerate, and the rest are hidden from us. As long as they are floating between the “admiration” and “tolerance” parts of the spectrum, we are comfortable ignoring the “tolerance” part and focusing on the “admiration” part. Because we are good people :)

The moment, we discover the “can’t tolerate” part, most people switch sides and don’t respect them at all. Look at what happened in the US after Jeffrey Esptein’s list was released. Quite a lot of “so-called good people” received bad press and many of them were disowned by their friends, co-workers, etc. What happened to the respect they had before?

Imagine you have a very skilled carpenter who works in your house regularly. You like his skills, work ethic, and quality of the finished products, you naturally respect his work and even recommend him to your neighbors. If you come to know that he is a pedophile, what happens?. Would you still hire him? Would you still recommend him to your neighbors? You don’t have to answer anyone, simply answer to yourself.

The point of this discussion is,

You don’t have to RESPECT all of someone and you don’t have to DISRESPECT all of someone.

The first part is probably easy, but the second part - most people cannot even comprehend. Almost 10 years ago, I wrote a blog post with a list of people that inspired me. Adolf Hitler and Jesus Christ were on that list. I am an atheist, and I respect Jesus Christ for some of his qualities - no problem. I am leaning toward an egalitarian society, and I respect Hitler for some of his qualities - a big No. Quite a few intense conversations from friends, back in the day.

Here is President Trump’s interview on CNN

Interviewer: Do you respect Putin?
President Trump: I do respect him
Interviewer: Why?
President Trump: I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I am going to get along with them …
Interviewer: Putin’s a killer
President Trump: We have got a lot of killers. Do you think our country is so innocent?

Now look at the media bias and stereotyping for him saying the truth?. I feel him, clearly.

Get a list of people you respect and list the qualities you admire, tolerate, and can’t tolerate. See if that helps.

Once that’s done. Look at you.

What qualities you respect about yourself?

Since you know the skeletons in your closet very well, it’s easy for you to list down the qualities that you respect, tolerate, and can’t tolerate. You will have newfound respect and understanding about yourself.

Are you happy with your findings? Do you want to minimize/remove the qualities you can/can’t tolerate?. Do you want to maximize the qualities you respect?. I can help. Let’s talk.

home > categories > self-improvement

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