Respect is earned Joann govenderYouth column

2015-08-27 06:00

I RECENTLY witnessed a rather sad truth about respect, or rather the lack of it, while observing a couple while dining out. They are a respectable couple, the guy takes good care of his family and for some time it looked like they were having a good time together.

In an instant he knocked over his beer and some of it splashed her blouse. She immediately (without thinking of course) blurted out that he was an idiot. He apologised but she continued to call him an idiot, not once or twice, but three times. She wasn’t loud, didn’t attract any attention but I heard it.

What caught me about this couple had nothing to do with his wife’s terrible lack of respect for her guy and herself in the process. What got my attention was the look of shame and disappointment at the manner in which she responded to his moment of embarrassment, not at dropping his drink, but at his response.

Not at any point did he retaliate calling her an idiot or jackass. He gave her some paper towel, my jaw dropped as she still tried to assist, then he walked away. She continued her evening for a couple of minutes then left. It dawned on me that this wasn’t the first time she had called him names or made him feel bad. He had accepted it.

People, this made me think that this happens all around us every day. Respect is fast vanishing from our families, marriages, friendships and relationships and society as a whole. What makes people respond in such a disappointing manner to the people closest to them? Let me say, that far too many times, we simply just take for granted those we ought to esteem, respect, love and honour and instead, pour out our patience and kindness to the rest of the world.

Think about the adult son who swears at his aged dad for spilling his food, or the mom who fusses over the child’s friend who spilt juice yet shouts names at her little one for doing the same. What makes a husband talk down to his wife but compliments the loose woman he works with. What makes a wife disrespect her husband yet esteems her boss who runs her down, or what about the spouse or partner who cheats or the employee who steals from his employer. How often do complete strangers bump into us and we simply overlook it and say, “sorry”. how about when the waitress spills coffee on you while serving you - do you smack her the way you smacked your child the previous evening and called him a stupid, clumsy little boy?

Respect is not just a word, it is a verb - a doing word, people. The synonyms are esteem, admire, think highly of, have a high opinion of, hold in high regard, hold in (high) esteem, think much of, approve of, appreciate, cherish, value, set (great) store by, prize, treasure, look up to, put on a pedestal, lionise, honour, applaud, praise or favour.

You see people, at the end of the day, we take for granted the ones we ought to give the most of ourselves to. The world respects you for your wealth, successes, status and very much along the lines of what you can do for them or perhaps they see just the one side to you. God help you if they saw all sides to you. On the other hand, your loved ones respect you for those things too but they respect you for the kind way you will respond to them someday. They respect you for the loving discipline they hope you will administer the next time - they look up to you even when you don’t deserve it because their love is unconditional. They love you through your imperfections and mistakes, they love you whether you hurt them or not. They respect you through your cracks. These are the gems, the treasures that you overlook so easily and take for granted because you believe they will always be there for you, always stand by you and accept you unconditionally. They are your solid support system. Whenever you look behind you, they are the ones holding you up and blocking the wind from knocking you over.

Respect means that even when one errs against you or you get angry, respond in a way that reflects you still have a deep sense of admiration for that person elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements and reflecting your good character.

So, respect those who treat you right and are worthy of your respect. Apologise quickly even if you are right. Forgive quickly despite being justified. Love wisely. Respect is earned, It is a two way street, it isn’t for everybody yet everybody has access to learn it and earn it. Don’t look back one day and wonder why you have nothing but your wealth, fame and successes yet still are the loneliest person on Earth

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