On respect

Does anybody know where I can go to earn some respect? Is it like Pac Man where have to eat a bunch of cherries & blinking circles & shit? Or is this just an option I can check off when I get hired to have some of my money diverted to respect? If I am disabled or laid off and not working is supplementary respect assistance available through the government?

I find that the most interesting thing about respect, is that we just expect folks to give it to us. When your cashier is having a bad day & is short with you, or someone on your block doesn’t pick it up after their dog drops a load in front of your steps, or your upstairs neighbor is blasting 3-6-mafia at 2am on a Wednesday & you have a meeting first thing in the morning, you feel unjustly disrespected. I suppose it could be argued that you earned (purchased?) the respect of the cashier by contributing to his paycheck with the money you spent at his store but what of your neighbors? Do you earn their respect just by living near them? do you have to own your home or can you be a renter? Do you have to know their names or have said hi to them?

Desiring respect without any effort on our parts isn’t interesting in itself of course. Most people want to be treated well by others. It is when others demand respect from us that it gets interesting because that’s when we pull out the “respect must be earned” argument. But as soon as people start marching around in the streets, penning articles, and making speeches demanding to be respected in spite of *enter oppressed status here* they need to earn our respect. How exactly do they go about doing that? What do our fellow humans have to do to earn the right to expect that people should treat them with the same decency and humanity that we treat the people who look, think, and communicate like us? What do people have to do for us to treat them the way we ourselves would like to be treated?



2 comments on “On respect”
  1. Wickedjulia says:

    I think remembering ‘being there’ is a big factor when it comes to expressing respect. I remember being the luckless person dealing with someone’s bad mood because of their shitty day all too well.

  2. wolfonakayak says:

    The higher up the socioeconomic ladder, the less overall respect most people seem to have for those “below” them. That frustrates me to no end. It makes sense, though; a few mishaps along the way that are severe enough to make you realize–I could be anywhere on that spectrum of society due to sheer luck, due to nothing I earned (earned positive, earned negative)–and those mishaps didn’t happen to people who “succeeded,” or if they were pulled down, they had good luck–LUCK–to be able to get back up again.

    People who didn’t get those advantages? Being born into the right family, attending the right school, having the right physical and mental capacity, being supported by the right side of society–why would those with privilege ever confront the idea that they didn’t “earn” everything they get? So they tend to assume those who don’t have advantages must have not “tried hard enough.”

    Those people infuriate me, but I can at least understand them. What makes less sense to me is the neighbor who doesn’t respect me. I have to call her up at 11:30 p.m. and tell her that her music, being played against the wall 6 inches thick that borders my bedroom, is waking me up, when I need to get to work at 6 a.m. I don’t understand why she doesn’t instantly realize … oh, right, I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me. I guess I expect a certain amount of solidarity in the apartment-dweller trenches; oddly enough, my neighbor called up the landlord at midnight and complained about me trying to get her to stop playing music that was waking me up.

    I try to give that Fast Food worker the respect that I figure they must deserve–they’ve been on their feet for 6 hours, smiling at people who are often rude and impatient. They’re doing their job. Respect at a certain level should be granted simply because of who and what a person MIGHT be. Or because “There but for the grace of luck go I.”

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