(About a 3 minute read)
Should we respect everyone?
I’ve been thinking about that fascinating question for the past few minutes, and it seems strange to me how fast my opinion is coming together on the issue. But isn’t that most likely because I’m not actually thinking about the question as I am merely recalling to mind my already existing opinions about respecting everyone?
I know I have often wondered if people who hurt and intentionally cause harm to others deserve the same level of respect that I would give to the average person, and crazily enough, I seem to have come to the conclusion that I would still maintain respect towards them – because I truly believe everybody is worthy of respect – but that doesn’t mean I would agree/support/encourage their negative behaviors/acts.
Which brings me to want to modify the question some little bit. Instead of asking “Should we respect everyone?”, perhaps it would be more instructive to ask, “Should we fully respect everyone?”, with the proviso that respect does not necessarily mean we are prepared to agree, support, or encourage anyone.
My reason for adding “fully” here is that in the past I’ve seen people tediously specify in detail that, say, they’d give a murderer only half or a tenth of the respect that they’d give anyone else, and so forth. I hope to head that sort of comment off.
So, should we fully respect everyone? Sindhuga seems to think so, Matthias doesn’t seem have a clear opinion on it, and I’m going to say, “yes”. Yes, even if were dealing with the most heinous person in history, I believe we should fully respect them — minus agreeing with, supporting, or encouraging them.
Of course, some people are bound to disagree with me. That’s fine. I’m not looking for a debate, but merely to explain my views. And my view is there are at least two closely related reasons for fully respecting everyone.
The first is that it humanizes people. By definition you cannot genuinely respect someone who you have dehumanized, and respect is a powerful ward against that. In theory, respect would put an end to everything from middle-school students abusing each other to genocides. You can’t get a much more powerful reason we should respect people than that.
Now against respecting people, I heard folks offer — first — that it’s unfair or unjust to respect someone who doesn’t respect you, or that it’s unfair or unjust to respect someone who had done something heinous or despicable.
Yet if one adopts that view, then it seems to me, one might be screw themselves. For support everyone were to quit respecting everyone else? Would not that open the door to all manner of atrocities? And couldn’t some of those atrocities hit home with people who believe in withholding respect for any reason?
At any rate, those are my thoughts for the moment on the issue of whether we should fully respect everyone. I hope you’ve had fun reading this.