Respect means valuing another person and their opinion without compromising one’s own core values, convictions, or beliefs. We all have things that are important to us, and who we are is built upon our beliefs. Our different ideals and convictions are not meant to prove who is better or right, but instead our differences and diversities can strengthen us as a community. In order to do that there must be respect and value for others of different nationalities and faiths, and also respect for ourselves. This kind of respect chooses to value others despite the differences.
True respect for others begins, and is born only out of a love and respect for ourselves. We all have beliefs, ideas and convictions that we hold to be right and true. I know that not everyone will agree with me, but I will not compromise my values based solely on another’s opinion. I do not believe that respecting or pleasing others should take priority in our lives especially when that compromise comes at the cost of one’s deeply held convictions. This does not mean that we shouldn’t show value and care for others, but we cannot put it in front of respect for our own convictions. In other words, we cannot lay aside our beliefs to appease other people but instead we need to respect ourselves by choosing to stand for what we believe. Respect therefore is not compromise alone, nor acceptance of something that we do not believe is right, but rather it is a character issue in which our values and convictions are tested and proven in how we treat other people.
As a Christian I believe that every person is valuable, not because of their nationality, what they do, or how much they have, but because they are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Based on this alone, every individual deserves a measure of respect. There should not be partiality shown because of differences; instead we need to choose to look past the color of their skin, the language they speak, and the religion they ascribe to and show them respect because they are a human being with worth. True respect then is demonstrated when you choose to value others despite any differences.
We should give respect to everyone, because they are a person of value, but when other people hold opinions and beliefs that are contrary to, and even violate my convictions, and there can be a demand on us to compromise for the sake of it. For example, as a Christian, I believe in absolute truth and I base that belief on concrete truths of the Bible, not a subjective one based on feelings. There are many, however, who think truth is whatever they want it to be, or whatever makes them feel good, but I do not agree with the idea that we can come up with our own truths. Ideals and beliefs that come against and even violate my own core convictions would be issues that I cannot give more respect to without compromising and disrespecting my own convictions. Personally I choose not to show any partiality nor verbally demean a person because of their beliefs, but I cannot give respect to their ideals. That to me is what respect is, choosing to regard the other person(s) with kindness and dignity without being forced to accept their beliefs.
In conclusion, respect is the balance of valuing others, yet staying true to your own beliefs. Based on this we need to choose our values, decide where we stand, then choose to value and regard other people despite the differences. Therein lies the strength and growth of a diverse culture of people in learning to respect the individual.Even though there will be many times when you cannot be of the same opinion, you can choose to respectfully disagree and not put others down. This I believe is living a life of respect that will change the way we interact with others.
Alyssa Wohlwend age 16
Photo Credit: RESPECT by Paul David on flickr; used under creative commons license.