What is Respect?

I often hear people say that we should show each other Respect. I agree. In fact, this site is based on the premise that people can actually have differences, show each other Respect, organize and do great things.

But what is Respect? I propose the following principles to help us be respectful to others.

First Principle

Each person is responsible for choosing who and what they believe.

If you find yourself getting angry or frustrated with someone who doesn’t believe what you believe, remember each of us must decide for ourselves who and what we will believe. It might also help to imagine having a conversation with your younger self.

Second Principle

Each person is responsible for choosing how they live their life.

What you truly believe spills out into how you live. If people believe differently, and we all believe somethings differently, you will naturally live differently. Each person has to decide for themselves.

Third Principle

Each person is responsible for negotiating the terms (a.k.a. the boundaries, rules or laws) of the relationships they have with others.

If you stopped with the Second Principle, you might conclude that people have license to do whatever they wish. However, these principles work together. Individuals have to decide the rules or boundaries for each relationship that they have. Some relationships, like those to civil government, are determined through hundreds of years of precedent and the federal, representative legislative process.

Fourth Principle

Each person is responsible for deciding when and how they will influence other people.

Some people are really bold and will challenge any idea. Some people are more reserved and only speak out on topics that are especially important to them. If we feel that someone crossed the boundary in the way they are exerting their influence, then maybe it is time to step back to the Third Principle and adjust the relationship. But, in the end, each person must decide for themselves how they will use their influence.

Fifth Principle

Each person is responsible for deciding when and how they will take a stand.

Although Liberty cannot survive if people don’t defend it, each person must decide the time and place where they will take a stand.

I believe God has given each of us these responsibilities and we have a unique and individual duty to God to exercise these responsibilities faithfully according to his will. But, not even God forces people to obey his will. When we start to assume someones motives, attack there character, or attempt some other means of coercion, rather than focusing on the ideas, then we are failing to show that person Respect.

When we do remember these principles, we have an opportunity to really start to understand other individuals and, more than that, to actually be kind even when we disagree.