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‘Everyone should be respected as an individual, but not idolised’

21st April 2022

‘Everyone should be respected as an individual, but not idolised’

(Albert Einstein)

HOM: Listening with understanding and empathy

R-E-S-P-E-C-T….who could fail to know how to spell this word having heard Aretha Franklin sing her famous song and it is a song that I am sure will introduce an assembly on the theme this week. Respect is something we all desire yet many might say that there is a deficit in our world today, from mean tweets and comments on social media, to cliquish behaviours in school and in the world beyond.

Some would say that respect needs to be earned by certain abilities, qualities or achievements. Indeed many of our ‘idols’ may be precisely that because of the way they sing, act, write, impress by their good works or other specific achievements. However, respect based entirely on what a person does is easily lost should that person fail in some way, in which case respect is withdrawn. Respect based on living up to an impossible ideal is unlikely to last because we are all human with all the strengths and frailties that go along with that.

That is why I like the quotation of Einstein that ‘Everyone should be respected as an individual, but not idolised’. He recognised the fragility of human nature and respect based on achievement. Instead he saw that respect should be accorded to all by virtue of their humanity and individuality. Respect should be based on the intrinsic value of a human being , independent of their achievements. This is a message which runs counter to much of what we are led to believe in our world, where respect is regarded as something to be earned. This counter-cultural message of respect for individuals has it’s root in a religious ethic where individuals have value beyond their utility or achievements.

We all desire to experience respect towards our beliefs, identity and individuality. And this can be gained through exercising respect towards others. As a general rule we will receive respect by giving respect. So what does this look like?

Here is a list from the Girl Scouting movement:
1. Listen with understanding and empathy and be present
2. Be thoughtful of others’ feelings.
3. Acknowledge others and say thank you
4. Address mistakes with kindness.
5. Make decisions based on what’s right, not who you like
6. Respect physical and emotional boundaries
7. Live and let live

Showing respect towards an individual, even if we do not agree with them is a challenge. Yet it is by showing respect that we may gain the respect of others ourselves.

Christine Crossley

Blog Monday April 25th