Respect is a term that has been understood and viewed by many people to mean differently depending on the individual socio-cultural background, values, beliefs and what one considers to be right or wrong. However, from the definitions that have been brought out by different individuals and the dictionary, respect can be defined as an action that denotes a positive regard for somebody or something. For example when respect is viewed in terms of a positive regard for somebody, it can be either because of the position of that person in the society, age or even the value that the person adds to one’s life. Respect for something can be either with regard to a specific ethics that is embraced by a given society. For instance, (Haidt & Jesse 2007: pp 103) identifies respect for tradition and legitimate authority as one of the five fundamental moral values shared by different societies or individuals. However, respect should not be confused with tolerance since tolerance does not imply positive feeling and is compatible with contempt which is the opposite of respect.
Having defined respect, one can take it to imply different values and ways of conduct in one’s day to day life. For instance, one can consider the art or skill listening as being respectful. Paying attention to somebody as he or she speaks shows a positive regard for that person and that you value whatever he or she is trying to put across. This not only makes the person feel honored and respected, but also it boosts his or her self esteem.
The other dimension in which respect can be taken to imply is by preserving dignity. This can be achieved by having self-respect. One can preserve his or her dignity by engaging in actions and behavior that is morally upright. Preserving dignity makes other people to respect a person together with the values and beliefs that he or she holds. Also, respect can be taken as showing some manners, being considerate when dealing with people of different diversities and also learning to keep promises. When one considers other people better than him or herself, it shows honor and value to those individuals. Being time conscious is also an act of respect. Respect of time can be attributed to someone who honors and values the systems that have been put in place (Haidt & Jesse 2007: pp 103).
There are different ways in which people use the word respect. For instance, be can use the word respect in language where by it can be expressed by following specific grammatical conventions, especially in referring to individuals. For instance, as pointed out in (Adler, 1983), an honorific is a word or expression that conveys respect when used in addressing or referring to a person. In addition the word respect in language can be used in style, that is, the manner of address to a person holding a given post. It is commonly used when addressing people in high positions either in government, business or religious organizations.
The word respect can also be used inform of gestures. For example hand gestures, nodding, or bowing. This shows great positive regard for a person and in most cases it occurs to persons in authority and is expressed by their juniors. In addition, one can stand up if sited by the appearance of a person whom one honors (Haidt & Jesse 2007: pp 103).
In conclusion, though people have different ways in which they value and take respect to mean, respect is of great importance in the society as it helps people to co-exist peacefully with one another and also makes one have a sense of belonging. Also respect is not only limited to older people in the society but also to the young, and therefore it is important to accord everybody his or her due respect regardless of his or her age. More important is self-respect because when one respects him or her self, it becomes easy to accord others respect.
- Carole S.Adler. Get lost little brother. Mifflin: Houghton, 1983.
- Jonathan, Haidt & Graham Jesse. When morality opposes justice. Research 20(1): pp 98-116, 2007.