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I Don’t Like You… but I Respect You

The BizCatalyst 360° article by Diane F. Wyzga, JD (60 Seconds: What If Somebody Liked You?) gave me an idea to put some thoughts on a blank screen. I haven’t written anything for a few months. I waited for inspiration. Thank you, Diane.

We all know people we simply don’t like, be it people in our neighbourhood, workplace, or even family members. Everyone has certainly experienced the sense of disliking someone from the first instant. I also had those gut reactions about some people the first time I met them. I attribute that to my intuition, although the logical side of my brain always tries to find reasonable explanations for my ‘hunches.’ I deeply believe in intuition or sixth sense. However, I’m aware there are other (logical) reasons than just intuition for making the judgment of someone we just met.

Also, there are people we dislike, although never met. We dislike them based on their actions and what we’ve read or heard about them, how they are presented in the media, or simply because they don’t belong to our ‘tribe’, be it political or social. Many historical figures and today’s public figures and politicians fall into this category.

Still, dislike and respect can go hand in hand.

I believe that respect for someone can coexist with knowing their negative traits and behaviours. Human identity is multi-layered and complex. You may dislike some of a person’s traits and still respect that person for their other traits and values. For example, I can have great respect for a person because of their accomplishments and intelligence, and at the same time, dislike them because of their bad attitude towards others or oversized ego. Since respect is subjective, the same traits that caused me to respect someone might have been perceived differently by people with different value systems.

But could you genuinely respect a person with too many traits you dislike and behaviours you disapprove of? And I don’t mean just behaving respectfully, i.e., being polite and considerate of another person.

Having respect for a person and behaving respectfully are two completely different things.

Showing respect to a person you don’t have respect for reminds me of the saying: “Salute the rank, not the man.”  There are many people in the position of authority you need to treat with respect, however, without having respect for them as individuals.

When authority figures are to ‘be respected,’ it is forced respect. There are many examples of governments ruling through directed violence against those who publicly disagree and criticize their policies to maintain their ‘respect.’ It has nothing to do with respect but fear. Fear does not equal respect.

Behaving respectfully toward others can be also used for manipulative purposes, to get something from them and not because of respecting them.

Genuinely respecting a person means not pretending.

I have to say – I struggle with the concept of respect.

To whom do we owe respect? It is a question on which there’s no agreement, even in theory. People understand the issue of respect and its moral requirements differently. For many, respect is conditioned by one’s behaviours or intentions and is something that should be earned.

I was taught that having respect for a person means respecting the intrinsic dignity of every human being. Since human dignity is inviolable, such respect is unconditioned.

However, to feel respect for everyone may seem unnatural in the matter of a person willingly involved in atrocities and tortures. Is it possible to respect child rapists? Do they lose their right to respect after committing such unspeakable crimes, or are they owed respect just because they are human beings?

Can we truly accept that every human being is worthy of respect and that the ground of respect is independent of their moral demerits? It means that Hitler and Mother Theresa are both worthy of our respect. (Actually, millions respected Hitler as a national saviour and turned a blind eye to the atrocities of the Nazi regime.)

Another question arises: Do we have moral obligations to respect those who don’t respect us and our fundamental rights as human beings?

All said are my thoughts in the light of recent events, war, and genocide in Ukraine that put the principle of respect for persons to the test. How one can respect butchers who committed the massacre in Bucha and enjoy doing so?

Philosophical and ethical discussions about the nature of respect often lead to many conflicting directions. There is also disagreement in understanding human dignity as a moral justification for equality. There are views that human dignity is relative. Rejecting intrinsic dignity paves the way for thinking that some humans are better than others, and those others can be treated as if they are less than humans – that don’t deserve respect. It opens the door for atrocity and genocide. The Nazis considered Jews and Gypsies to be sub-humans. The Rwanda genocide or the genocide of Australia’s Tasmanian Aborigines are just a few in a line of many examples of dehumanisation throughout history.

***

While writing, as always, my thoughts go in many directions. I started writing about disliking but also touched on dehumanisation. Although dislike is different from dehumanisation, the opposite for both is respect. We don’t have to like each other, but much more important is getting people to see each other as dignified human beings no matter the differences. It starts with ourselves first and realising our own prejudices.

Is it possible? Unlikely. We live in a hierarchically structured world where dehumanisation is a part of human interactions. Many still look at entire racial or ethnic groups as inferior human beings. Whether we are aware of it or not, each of us is capable of inhumane treatment of others, and each of us, at some time, may experience no longer being respected as a human being.

***

As for the title of my article, we all have instinctive preferences for some people over others. People will like me or not. I can’t influence it; it’s their choice. There will always be those who won’t like me because my values and ideas don’t match theirs. I also hope there will be those who, although they may not share my opinion, will value my point of view and respect my integrity and honesty. We can have respect for persons we don’t like or agree with. Being respected and feeling valued, regardless of whether being liked, really matters to me.

Editor’s Note: Featured Image “humanity. love. respect.” by B.S. Wise is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Lada Prkić
Lada Prkićhttps://www.bebee.com/@lada-prkic
Lada Prkić is a Civil Engineer and has a lot of professional experience in various fields of Civil Engineering. She works at the University of Split on the capital construction projects at the University Campus and beyond. Besides performing responsible tasks as a Project Manager, and Head of Capital Investment Office, Lada became passionate about blogging. She writes about civil engineering, architecture, geometry, networks on social media, and human relations. Lada lives with her family in Split, Croatia, a beautiful 2,000 years old city on the coast of the Adriatic sea.

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5 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Lada .. I just returned here to see your reply .. hope you will forgive my long reply ..
    As to “wrong-thinking” – I agree this can be “tricky”
    This is how I assess “thinking” being right or wrong:

    Right-thinking produces right-actions and good outcomes
    Wrong-thinking produces wrong-actions and poor/bad outcomes

    .. I look at the “fruit” being produced .. here is what I mean by “Fruit”
    “Wrong-thinking” produces CHAOS – Deception: Lying Liars – Corruption and Wickedness
    Right-thinking produces Peace, Love, Justice, Kindness, Humility, Compassion .. etc
    2)
    “Religion” is of man .. not God
    “Religion” has become corrupted – Truth has been distorted
    Yet ..
    Truth remains Truth
    .. whether we accept it or refuse it or reject it

    “Religious” people are too often following flawed human-opinion (mostly their own)
    Wisdom is required.

    God is after our heart
    He is a God of relationship & redemption – not “religion”
    Jesus was hated by the “religious establishment: Priests, Scribes, Pharisees – Jesus was a seen as a dangerous Revolutionary .. upsetting the status quo of the (mostly) corrupt “religious” rulers who had made up their own laws to oppress people & rob them of Truth
    God is the Source & Standard of Truth
    Part of our earthly journey is to find Truth
    Though the god of this age & the prince of this world is doing his best to blind & bind people to darkness.
    The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4

    3)
    To clarify: a person with whom I totally disagree/do not respect
    (this is mostly because of wrong- thinking & wrong actions)
    Again: it is my perspective – to consider this person “unlovely”
    Yet ..
    These “unlovely” people I CAN & do try to love with the love of Jesus Christ
    Again: some of these are my family and my neighbors.
    Principle: disagree – without being disagreeable
    4)
    The important point I wanted to make (in my prior comment) was this:
    Being a person of faith .. should NOT .. does NOT disconnect us from what is rightly-ordered (in our mind & heart – soul & spirit)
    When something is morally wrong .. wicked .. or EVIL .. we are NOT expected .. NOT called to accept or “respect” or to “love” (the person-the thing)
    .. we can & should HATE ..
    God is Love
    Yet ..
    The Lord Himself “hates wickedness”
    “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” 1 Corinthians 13

    In closing dear Lada .. I highly regard how you thoughtfully & honestly communicate.
    I like you and Love & respect you 💜 🙏 ❤
    Your bee-friend .. Fay

  2. Dearest Lada .. you make me SMILE
    Please allow me to respond to a few things you said that I hope to shed Light on.
    Allow me to clarify what I (personally) mean by loving the “unlovely” / defined as: not likable : disagreeable, unpleasant
    This is not a complete list ;~)
    .. a person with whom I totally disagree/do not respect (mostly because of wrong- thinking & wrong actions)
    .. a person who is not living responsibly or morally (for example: a thief, an adulterer, a LYING politician)
    .. a person who is out of control in the way they live their life: for example: addictions
    .. a person who has the ability to work – but chooses not to (has given themselves over to being cared for) cares not about personal responsibility

    Some of these are my family and my neighbors.
    These “unlovely” people I can try to love with the love of Jesus Christ
    In the event they “get right with God” – they might be transformed – but this is a process that is totally dependent on cooperation with God’s Spirit working in them and the desire to be transformed. Before that can even be a possibility there must first be the understanding that something is not right about their life – they must recognize that they are not living up to their God-given potential.

    Transformation is a process. (processes can take recesses – all progress is not upwards)
    Outcomes will vary based on the clay .. “with the measure you use it will be measured to you”
    All “saints” are under construction.

    Being a person of faith .. should NOT .. does NOT disconnect us from what is rightly-ordered (in our mind & heart – soul & spirit)
    When something is morally wrong .. wicked .. or EVIL .. we are NOT expected .. NOT called to accept or “respect” or to “love” (the person-the thing)
    .. we can & should HATE ..
    The Lord Himself “hates wickedness”

    “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
    a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
    9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
    – Hebrews 1
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews%201&version=NIV

    Thus .. I do NOT “love” or “respect” evil, wicked people.
    We just had a

    Good question ..
    Are humans indeed capable of loving and respecting others unconditionally?
    My short answer is “NO” .. it depends on CAPACITY .. this is complex. (perhaps in a post I’ll share my answers here and expand on this thought)

    Only God is capable of such supernatural LOVE
    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
    It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
    It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
    Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13

    Only God’s love “never fails” (do not expect this from mere mortals)
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13&version=NIV
    (I share links for reference to entire chapter for context)

    • Dear Fay, your list of “unlovely” people made me think. I never thought of a person I totally disagree with as an unlovely. Also, describing something as “wrong thinking” is tricky for me. Like when someone considers their beliefs to be objective truth and all other views as wrong or even harmful.
      To me, arguing about religious viewpoints is pointless. I learned that religious people think they’re always right. 🙂 Despite our total disagreement, I respect and love you as my friend. 💖

  3. These points stood out
    .. Having respect for a person and behaving respectfully are two completely different things.
    .. “Salute the rank, not the man.” (the office)
    .. Fear does not equal respect.

    A great question:
    Do we have moral obligations to respect those who don’t respect us and our fundamental rights as human beings?
    My answer is “no”
    It is rightly ordered to hate evil – wickedness

    Reading your excellent & well-reasoned post made me consider this wisdom from Jesus Christ .. which is about judging people

    (many did not “like” Christ .. some even hated Him .. though without reason)

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

    For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” – Matthew 7

    I’m reminded me there are varying degrees of respect

    .. civility

    .. esteem

    .. approval

    .. due regard

    .. acceptance

    .. honor .. praise .. reverence ..

    .. admiration .. even deep admiration

    Its easy to “like”/ “respect” those who are lovable

    The test of our being is the ability to “respect” (even love) the unlovely

    In some ways “respecting” a person aligns with trusting a person

    I trust people who are “trustworthy” .. qualities like “honesty & integrity” are revealed by time .. actions .. behaviors .. even words.

    On this we agree:

    “We can have respect for persons we don’t like or agree with.

    There will always be those who won’t like me because my values and ideas don’t match theirs.”

    Dear Lada .. I respect you & I love you 💖

    • Dear Fay, you are a wonderful human being! Thank you for your comments, always filled with wisdom.
      You said that the test of our being is the ability to “respect” (even love) the unlovely. As you know, I have no religious background, but most of my close friends and family members have. Many of them found the Christian command to love (and respect) all people complex to follow. It includes love and respect across religious, cultural, and social lines. Also, it is not about loving and respecting people we merely disagree with but loving and respecting evil, wicked people.
      Are humans indeed capable of loving and respecting others unconditionally? I don’t believe so. If it were possible, the world would look completely different without wars, violence and disenfranchised people. As I said in the article, each of us is capable of inhumane treatment of others, whether we are aware of it or not.
      But I believe we can love and respect people we’ve never met in person. I have the same feelings for you, my dear friend. My life became reacher by having online friends like you.

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