- The condition of being honoured (esteemed or respected or well regarded)
- A courteous expression (by word or deed) of esteem or regard
- Behaviour intended to please your parents
- A feeling of friendship and esteem
- Courteous regard for people’s feelings
Do you respect me? I want you to respect me. I don’t want to earn your respect. I just want respect. Do you know who I am? How dare you not show me some respect. I am the great, the one and only, alan orr. You must respect me. Blah, blah, blah.
Ok, so it’s nice to be respected – to be held in high esteem by your peers, isn’t it? It makes you feel nice, there’s nothing wrong with that. So who do we respect, what types of people do we respect? What do they do? What have they achieved? Think about this carefully for a moment, because it is of the utmost importance.
What I want to explore with you here in this topic is whether we pay respect to people just because they wear specific clothes, have reached a high position in society, or just because they threaten us to get it! Surely respect is just a measure of what you have done, and not who you are as a human being. What do you think?
In most countries, the king or queen is held in high esteem. People wave flags, they sing the national anthem, and in some places, even mentioning a bad word against them is a treasonable offence. Monks are respected for the robes they wear, soldiers are respected for the uniform they wear, presidents, prime ministers are respected for the office they hold, chief executives are respected for their job title, wealthy people are respected for the amount of money they have.
So what about you and me. Who respects us?
I have noticed in life, that many people demand respect from us. First our parents. They want our respect and they will get it! But why do parents want this from their children? Does it make them feel good, powerful, or important; does it give them the respect they always craved and never received? Surely it’s a pretty sad way to get people to hold you in high esteem, don’t you think? If the only person you can get to respect you is your children, and only because you intimidate them and they rely on you, what does that say about you as a person?
The same goes for people in any position of authority. Lawyers, judges, magistrates, or police. These are very important people, don’t you know! Except strip away the clothes and there is, but a man underneath. That doesn’t mean he is worthless without his title and clothes, for he is still part of the most intelligent species on the planet – homo sapiens.
The thing we all seem to forget is that underneath our clothes we are all the same. Clothes and titles are like a second skin we put on before we leave home in the morning. They may be part of us, but they are definitely not us. Not our authentic self, not our true self.
Imagine for a moment you line up a group of people next to each other wearing their second skins. A king, a judge, a politician, a chief executive, a priest, and a soldier. Then put an alcoholic, a murderer, and a wife beater next to them. Now tell them to strip their clothes off. Who do you respect now? Where are the visual clues you need to tell you when to respect someone and when to despise them? You may look at the faces to look for airs of authority, but what’s to tell you you’re not wrong? After all, there are many people in high positions who are also wife beaters and alcoholics, and being in a high position does not preclude you from being a murderer!
Underneath our clothes we are all the same – human
Let’s try to get inside the minds of the people we have just undressed for a moment. What are they thinking as they are asked to undress. How do they feel? Who has the most to lose by undressing?
Does the murderer care if he takes off his clothes? After all, no one respects him anyway. He is despised and reviled by all in society. What about the king? His whole rule is based on outward displays of grandeur. How would he feel? What would be gong through his mind as he stood next to the murderer? Wouldn’t he be thinking, “I hope no one thinks I’m the murderer. Don’t they know I’m the king. I am the most important person in society.”
But naked, they have all been exposed. They are revealing their true selves, albeit unwillingly. For a man (or woman), undressing in public is highly embarrassing – it demeans and it devalues, at least in the minds of those who are asked to strip off. It seems that after millions of years of evolution, we are actually afraid to show off our own bodies! Imagine animals being afraid of showing off their bodies.
A short while ago, I was in the bathroom, when I noticed a small spider busily spinning its web. As I stood watching it I wondered whether it had any delusions of grandeur, whether it needed respect, whether it compared itself to other spiders to see who was more important and worthy of respect; but as I watched, I had to concede that all the spider was interested in was spinning its web.
You may think that this is a silly example, as a spider is a simple creature, and that we are a technologically and socially advanced civilisation. But I reiterate: only when we are wearing the clothes. Underneath, we are timid creatures, afraid to show the world who we really are. We project an image of who we want the world to think we are.
Let’s face it, we are attached to the clothes, we are attached to the office, we are attached to the power, and we are attached to the respect. When we lose the clothes, the rest crumbles of its own volition.
So who are we without this respect? I mean, really? Are we all we seem? Or are we, as I suspect, filled with fear, afraid to be alone in the world, with a desperate need to be liked and admired, so we do not feel empty. Are we perhaps afraid of ourselves, afraid that when we lose the cloak of power and respect we see ourselves for who we really are?
The quality of being worthy of esteem or respect
Do we need to have done anything to respect ourselves? Do we need to be an “important” man or hold an “important” position, or can anyone do it? This is the key to respect that most people miss. They think that by wearing the cloak of office (whichever that may be, from a father of children to the king), that the cloak somehow endows them with self-respect as well. That, unfortunately, is not the case.
So how do we get this self-respect, where can we buy it? How much does it cost? What job do I have to do to get it?
As you all know, you can’t get it from anywhere else apart from yourself. So where do you look? Nowhere, it’s already there. It’s already inside, just waiting for you to activate it. It requires no job titles, no funny robes, you can even get it while you’re naked.
Stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself: “I respect myself. I value myself. I am worthy of myself. I need no external validation.” There you go, done it! How does that feel?
I am guessing it doesn’t feel as good as being the president, a senior judge, or a monk.
Who will respect you just because you respect yourself you may be wondering? Everybody or nobody? When you value yourself you have no pretensions about other people. You do not need to wear the robes (real or invisible), to feel important. Do you want to know why? Because you are important. You are alive, part of the human race, part of the earth and the solar system beyond.
You made it!
Out of all the things that could have gone wrong during the pregnancy and your subsequent birth, you were born. You breathed earth’s air and lived. You are still alive today.
Whether you wear the cloak of office is not important, it is how you live your life that is. The only way is to live it authentically. To integrate (make into a whole or make part of a whole) yourself. To match the real you with the external you, the you you project to the outside.
All too often we hide our true selves from the rest of the world lest they laugh or make fun of us or don’t respect us, but once you realise that their respect is actually not worth anything, you can begin to show yourself to the world. Not the person you think they want to see, but the person you really are.
People may show you respect, but you do not need it. Any time you start to get delusions of grandeur, just remember who you are without your clothes! Whether you have done great humanitarian work, saved the whales, or saved the world, it does not mean you need to be shown respect, do you understand? All that is happening is that the respect is pandering to your ego (an inflated feeling of pride in your superiority to others). You feel important. But remember what we said earlier in the discussion, you are important, but so are the words you use and the actions you take.
Take the first step in dismantling this falseness that is respect. Toss away the symbols of respect, the invisible (or visible) robes, and walk as naked through life as if you had just been born. Value yourself as a human, not a position, and in valuing yourself, let the authentic you shine through like a golden light, through the armour you have built up over the years, and at the same time, let the light in.
Once you have told yourself that you value yourself you do not need to keep doing it. You do not need any external validation, it doesn’t matter what people think of you.
Remember this: One day they may offer you respect as their king, the next they want to cut off your head! External respect is transient. Self-respect will stay with you for as long as you live, all you have to do is let compassion and love be your guide in life.
by alan macmillan orr
“The Natural mind – waking up”