Respect can be defined as a positive feeling of esteem for a person or entity. It denotes the regard and consideration shown by an individual towards others.
There have been various philosophical works done in the past that try to define ‘respect’ comprehensively. The most substantial work has been done by Immanuel Kant. He stated that every individual deserves respect because he is an end in himself.
Though, his theory is questioned, criticized or inferred in many ways, yet it is one of the significant works. It is hard to clearly demarcate the outline and definition of respect. But it is a feeling that can be mutually understood and felt.
Respect cannot be demanded, it is an asset that has to be earned. From the very childhood kids are taught to respect their parents, elders, teachers and an unending list of social obligations. But an ambiguity arises when the teachings do no match the practical experiences.
Children find it hard to respect certain persons or the same person in differing situations, viz. If a parent generally behaves positively with the children, it is normal for the child to reciprocate and show the same behaviour. But the anomaly arises when a parent confront or scold the child to make him understand a certain thing. The child wants to reciprocate his behaviour but the parent defies his behaviour and tells the child to respect him.
Here the respect is tried to be imposed and not earned. This is a contradiction to respect. Nobody can earn respect by suppression or by flaunting power. It is a deliberate action that cannot be forced upon others.
There is an individualistic form of respect also, which is well known as self-respect. If an individual cannot respect himself, he cannot respect any other person. A feeling of worth and rational judgement gives rise to self respect.
Self respect is an essential component for the prosperity of any individual. A person with low self respect may act as a timid. On the other hand, self respect does not violate the individuality or respect of others. A clear distinction occurs between self respect and ego.
Self respect is recognition of intrinsic worth. A person works to protect and preserve his self respect. On the other hand, ego can be defined as forceful or aggressive imposition of one’s thoughts or judgements over the others.
Hence respect can be called as a behavioural component. A person inadvertently judges the other on the basis of the expressed behaviour and qualities possessed by him. Respect is also an expression of accepting a certain trait or set of traits demonstrated by that person. The qualities or traits that we appreciate, we tend to respect those who own them. So, respecting a person or not comes naturally.
Every person has his own standards of judging people. Yet, there are certain set of qualities that are common and popular to gain respect in the society, viz. An individual who possess high moral values and shows compassion and solidarity towards other human beings is respected by a large section of society. Then there are other traits like general behaviour, reaction, response and a personal growth etc.
All these factors contribute to effectively comprehend the term ‘respect’. It is a natural response or reaction towards an individual. To earn respect is a matter of individualistic integrity and rational behaviour.