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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

Radical Respect

Updated: Jul 25, 2019

Choosing to respect others even when they do not respect you.

Why is “in order for me to give respect, they have to earn it” the excuse we use to not respect others?

Do we truly know what respect is? What it looks like? What it’s meant to be used for? Isn’t the way that we learned how to respect others is because someone respected us first? So why do we demand that people earn respect before we give respect?

I think respect is a form of love. And like love, we can give respect with zero expectations. But time and time again there are moments when we choose to not give respect, but demand it be given anyway. We’re all human and will not always do the right thing. I think the ever growing lack of respect is why we’re seeing the events in the news that break our hearts. It’s a factor in the shootings, bombings, suicides, and riots.

Think about it. Whomever is the one doing the act that makes the news more than likely felt some sort of disrespect and felt that it was necessary to go to the extreme chosen. Whomever is on the receiving end of said act is not necessarily the one who did the disrespecting. Because someone you love and respect could decide to take their own life via influence of someone else who disrespected them.

What would it look like to give respect with zero expectations of receiving any?

First of all, it’s a choice. We, as individuals, have to choose to respect one another as well as understand that it is a choice for everyone. You cannot make the choice for someone else to respect you, but you can still choose to respect them.

I think we also have to choose to respect ourselves. May sound a little strange, but hear me out — think about someone you know who takes care of everyone but hardly ever takes care of themselves. They can appear to be rather exhausted, right? That’s because it’s exhausting to constantly pour out love and respect when your cup is not being filled too. Choosing to respect yourself could be the small contribution you need to make it through a day of no respect received.

Remembering the Golden Rule: treating others the way that you want to be treated is showing them respect. It also goes along with what Christ asks of His followers — “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you,…” (John 13:34 ESV). He has asked that we love one another, and He is the source that we can be replenished by.

In my own life, I have found while it does make it easier to respect others when they have given respect: I am less at war with myself and others if I choose to give the respect I would like given. Doesn’t mean that it’s not frustrating or tiring when there is no reciprocal respect. But choosing to respect regardless of the situation eases the tension that is created.

I’m not saying that I’ve got this figured out or that I do this all of the time. I am still learning this lesson, and probably will learn it a few times more — because I am human. But that does not excuse me from whether or not I try. And even though this post is titled Radical Respect, this idea only seems “radical”, to me, because it seems like no one does it any more.

So how can you choose to respect those in your life today without the expectation of them respecting you in return? I think if we choose to give radical respect, society could see a change for the better. You never know how a little respect can go a long way. Especially with everything that is happening in the world today.

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