Friday, September 19, 2014

Unconditional Respect

Yesterday while driving on a busy street, I noticed an old man trying to cross. Just as he thought he got a clearing, a two-wheeler came rushing down to cut his path and the man stepped back.

Not an unusual sight. I have heard my father complain about the impossibility of crossing certain roads. I recently took my mother out and was surprised at how, in the last one year of restricted movement and commuting only by car if needed, she found the roads that she had traversed with as much alacrity as her age permitted, unsafe. I don't even send my children to the road outside my gate for fear of speeding vehicles though at their age, I remember being sent to the local shops several times in a day.

This syndrome of treating the road as personal domain is a result not just of the high one gets from the powerful engines and the speed associated with it but our own attitude to the world. I think it is a consequence of the attitude - 'only 'I' matter(s?). If you want respect and consideration, earn it. Till then, I shall act just as I please.'

The suave may have cultured ways of expressing it. But when practiced by the uncultured or the pretentious, it borders on to aggression and insensitivity. It transgresses boundaries and interferes with others' rights and lives, disturbing them in ways that do not make us any respectable.

Have we forgotten the question, "What do I do to deserve respect and consideration?"

I will not hark back to ancient times, for the brash and the bashful existed at all times. In fact, aware of the human tendency to become selfish and self-centered, the stress was on respecting lives, be it other humans, animals or plants. The question asked was not whether they deserve respect but whether we have it in us to be respectful.

I can understand well why. When I pause to give someone way, when I try to put my needs behind, the heart expands and the feeling of well-being spreads through my body. When for some reason, even genuine, I dig my heels in, I feel closed and tense like a taut string. Certain situations cannot be avoided. But that moment need not define the respect I give the other. I can and must learn not to colour my attitude of respect with a moment of disagreement. If disagreements continue, I can maintain my respectful distance.

Giving respect is an act not for the benefit of the other person, but ourselves. It makes us better humans and let's strive for that.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...