26 December 2007

On respect

Originally posted to a discussion board.

This thread (on “respect”) is challenging my self-perception.

A priori, I lean toward Kourtney and Tamara's original point: It never hurts to respect one another, and it generally makes the world a better place.

When it comes down to it, many (most?) of the opinions people express are pretty ignorant. Does that mean they shouldn't be respected? “Let him who is without ignorance cast the first stone.”

But there are clearly beliefs that are downright harmful, and need to be opposed: The belief that people should not be allowed to openly express their opinions, for instance; or that people should not be respectful of one another. But I would still maintain that is it possible, and desirable, to oppose such beliefs in a respectful manner. (This, I think, is what someone meant by respecting the person, even if you don't respect the idea.)

Even then, there are people who are so consumed by arrogance and hatred that I find it virtually impossible to respect them. Does that mean I shouldn't try?

Bottom line, who am I to judge who is worthy of respect, and who is not? What gives me that authority? Am I that much better than everyone else?

And yet, truth be told, I do not respect everyone. When some idiot posts a mindless insult on a discussion board, my first impulse is to humiliate him, to expose his ignorance before the entire world. Is that an appropriate response? Does it make the world a better place?

I'm going to have to ponder this some more.

No comments:

Copyright © 1993-2009 by Gerrit Erasmus. All rights reserved.