There are many reasons why respect is my most sacred value, but it boils down to the honest, understanding, and equal relationships that mutual respect can create.
I’d like to make it clear that when I say I value respect, I don’t mean I respect everyone. For me respect should be given freely but retracted if undeserved or unrequited. If someone shows me that they have little or no respect for me, then I can not and will not respect them. On the flip side of that, if someone seems to deeply respect me, my needs and boundaries etc. then my respect for them will deepen, and trust, generosity, and love will be fostered.
One of the reasons I have grown to value respect so much, is the negative effects a lack of it can have. One example of this is my experiences of a housemate of mine who talks down to me and can be patronizing at times (he recently said “calm down, honey” to me when I had mentioned something that wasn’t getting cleaned). The lack of respect has resulted in a very fractious relationship and a home life which is less comfortable and more stressful than is really necessary.
Another reason is, of course, the benefits I have seen. My relationships in which there is a mutual respect, are stronger; the respect allows us to be truly honest about issues and sources of conflict, and makes resolution easier. Respect also develops trust, which makes my relationships happier all round.
I also value respect because, in my opinion, a lot of the problems I see in the world are caused by its lack. On a basic level, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. can be explained in a lot of ways by an, albeit superficially based, lack of respect. I don’t at all mean to say that a lack of respect is the whole problem, but it is a part of it. I believe the world would be a more productive, happy place if we could develop a simple respect for the differences between us and the people around us. I’ve noticed that people love to argue but find listening hard.
What if instead of arguing and pushing a point of view, we could take a second to listen to someone else’s perspective and, simply out of respect, try to understand? If this happened more, both in everyday conversation, and in political environments, I believe this would be more pleasant, and the political climate more productive than it currently is.
I have learned a lot about respect from my relationship with Rachel. Rachel and I agree on almost everything politically, but differ religiously. Through our longstanding friendship, I have developed a deep respect for her faith and everything it does for her, and in turn she has respect for my agnosticism. What this has done for our friendship is given us the ability to openly talk about religion, and the certain beliefs and practices we have about everyday life as a result of religion (or lack of it). Through this I have learned so much about Christianity, and become so much more open to the different perspectives of religious people. This has echoed throughout my life, allowing me to feel comfortable asking other Christian friends about their faith and belief system, which has been not only educational for me, but has allowed me and said friends to have a more meaningful, respectful relationship. It has also given me the gift of a true respect for faith and religion, and what it can do for people and even the world around us.
I still have a lot to learn when it comes to respect. I expect that as I learn, respect will only become a more sacred value for me.