By CHRISTINA QUACH
I am sure we all have someone in mind who we believe do not deserve the respect they receive: it literally can be anyone—a celebrity, a family member, a friend, etc.
Regardless of what we believe, it is more important that an individual earns the respect from others rather than have it be blindly given, which is where the respect that a person gains is only due to superficial means. Once respect is given because of shallow reasons, the respect can rapidly morph into power.
Often times when someone is regarded highly, their ego inflates and their self-worth heightens; it is inevitable. When this happens, it clouds their mind, which later affects their actions and behavior towards others.
A perfect example of blind respect gone wrong is the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment. A group of students were randomly separated into two roles: prisoners and guards. Things quickly got out of hand when the “officers” became respected by the prisoners and the recognition soon seeped into their minds. They started acting like real officers and began to psychologically torture the prisoners, even though they truly had only a mere title. After six days, the experiment was called off because of the poor treatment the prisoners received.
This blatant abuse of power stems from the nonsensical esteem the students who played the guards had despite the fact that they were chosen at random, and this drastic behavior could have been happened with anyone. With only the term “Officer” preceding their name, they managed to make the prisoners fearful when, in reality, after the experiment, the guards became their equals once again.
Ultimately, giving someone high regard without any prior criteria to base it off of is never the answer, and many times, those who receive it tend to abuse it. Therefore, it is important to not establish respect off of titles and start looking at actions that call for such respect.
However, many people misunderstand the concept of earning respect and misinterpret it as an okay to be rude to others because they have not “earned” respect yet. But what those people are not realizing is that their actions are plain rude.
In certain situations, some people, like bosses and higher-ups expect respect. And for the most part, the ones in power are courteous toward us, so we should return the gesture. But this begs the question: do they truly deserve the respect they are given?
Most people in an authoritative position demand respect, because their position itself calls for such high regards—a principal who demands to be seen as the boss or the teacher who always says “the bell doesn’t dismiss you, I do.” Perhaps a good balance of earning respect and common courtesy is the perfect solution to their problems.
Essentially, we should be able to differentiate what is considered polite versus actions that garner true respect. There is a fine line between the two; respect is true admiration towards another while being polite is just another common courtesy. For instance, we can remain mannerly as ever towards those in charge and until they do something that makes us realize that they are actually deserving of respect, we will give deserved respect to them.
Disrespect falls under the same lines. Until someone does something worthy of disrespect, we should remain civil. That way, we can remain in a courteous society and lessen public disruption.
At the end of the day, regardless of if we believe they deserve it or not, respect is something we choose to give to others and vice versa, so everyone should always strive to do good to truly earn such esteem from others.