Society Without Respect?

Our booming laughs and distant chatters came to a halt as soon as we stepped foot into the gathering space of the church. The teachers stood in a perfect line, with their pointer fingers pressed against their lips, reminding us to keep quiet as we entered the church doors. Even the most garrulous students knew that once they were inside of God’s house, they had to display the utmost reverence and respect. As a community, we knew to be respectful and gracious, even if we aren’t when outside of those church doors.
At a young age, we are taught to respect our parents, teachers, elders, cultural traditions, laws, and people’s differing opinions. And as a result, we come to value respect for such things; we become more aware of why we respect the things we’re told to respect. We may also come to believe that, at some level, all people are worthy of respect. We may learn that jobs and relationships become unbearable if we receive no respect in them; we learn the consequences of disrespecting civil law, for example. Though differing social ideologies are constantly up for debate, it is acknowledged that such debates end in a demand for mutual respect. We soon learn both that our lives revolve around respecting the things that deserve to be respected, as well as respecting some things despite considerations of how our lives would go.
Moreover, our lives also depend on whether we truly respect ourselves. Once we lose our self-respect, we lose confidence in our abilities and lose motivation to do the things we love. Many people find that finally being able to respect themselves is what matters most when kicking a habit or defending something they value; the ones that don’t, end up irretrievably lost. It is evident that respect and self-respect are deeply connected in this world. It is almost impossible to respect others if we do not first respect ourselves. In all, damaged self-respect and resilient self-respect can be a potent force in struggles against injustice.
Although people are the paradigm objects of respect, we must go beyond just the norm. Human embryos, nonhuman animals, plants, and the natural ecosystem of our planet have moral standing and worth as well. We must strip down moral respect to its essentials, much of the content is illuminated through the respect that is owed to all things. If we begin to spread our respect beyond just rational beings, our world would be unstoppable.