Automatic Respect

What I’m going to say here will probably be unpopular among the millennial/social justice howler monkey/progressive set, but I need to say it.

You do not deserve respect.

Yeah, there. I said. You. Do. Not. Deserve. Respect.

But let me explain.

Respect is not an automatic thing. Reverence, honor, and admiration are not and should not be merely given to someone as an entitlement for doing nothing.

I think in the past couple of decades (maybe more, maybe less, not sure) we’ve begun to pervert the meaning of the word “respect,” and begun to conflate it with courtesy and civility. Even today’s online dictionaries have “respect” as a synonym for “courtesy.”

I would respectfully (SWIDT?) disagree.

Respect is much more than common decency we should all afford to our fellow human beings. It’s admiration. It’s honor. It’s something that’s earned, rather than an entitlement simply given because you live and breathe.

You do not deserve respect for merely showing up.

You do not deserve respect for doing merely what you’re supposed to, even though so many these days don’t even go that far. But just because the bar is low, doesn’t mean my bar will be lowered to match it.

You do not deserve respect for merely existing.

You do not deserve respect for having more melanin in your skin than I do, for having different plumbing, for inventing a new, never before-seen gender/species despite your plumbing, or for worshiping a different sky elf than everyone else.

You do not deserve respect for your disabilities, vulnerabilities, or inabilities. Your oozing sores are not to be kissed; they are to be overcome. And your mediocrity is not to be revered it is to be recognized for what it is: mediocrity.

Yes, you deserve common courtesy. Yes, you are to be treated like a human being. No, you are not to be deprived of opportunities to do the work you are qualified and willing to do merely because of your race, skin color, religious beliefs, plumbing, or disability. You are not to be belittled or denigrated because of those traits, but you are not to be afforded special treatment because of them either.

Be the best qualified for the opportunity, and you will get it.

Do the job superlatively despite opposition, competition, and obstructions, and you will earn respect.

Overcome your challenges, disabilities, and disadvantages to be the best at what you do, and you will earn respect.

Do extra work, put in extra effort, study, go the extra mile, improve yourself and succeed, and you will earn respect.

Notice I said “earn.” Earning is an action. It requires some kind of positive process. It requires you to put in an effort. Sure, if you show up and do the work you were hired to do, you will earn a paycheck. That’s a value for value exchange agreed to by both you and your employer when you were hired. You do the work, and you get paid. That’s how it works. But that’s all you will earn.

But no one promised you respect. I guarantee that unless you work for some proglodyte who does not understand the value of and has no appreciation for his or her own enterprise, a promised paycheck and benefits is all you can expect for an honest day’s work. Because giving you unearned honors merely for existing cheapens that enterprise, and it’s a spit in the face of every individual who struggles and agonizes to achieve and succeed.

Respect comes with extra effort.

Respect comes with innovation and a willingness to go above and beyond.

Respect comes when you overcome the challenges you face to create something brilliant, original, and unique.

Respect comes when you stay until the work is done, not until the clock strikes 5 pm.

Respect comes when you go out of your way to help others, to share your expertise, to listen when others offer theirs and absorb and incorporate said expertise into your work.

Respect comes when you refuse to make excuses about your perceived lack of privilege and just do a superior job at whatever task you undertake.

Respect comes when you are honest about your shortcomings and you make every possible effort to overcome them, and when you acknowledge your failures, take responsibility for them, and actively work to fix them.

Until you can do the above, you will receive common courtesy, but you are not entitled to respect.


14 responses

  1. I think you took exactly what I’ve been thinking and put it into words. I remember this one video on youtube where this person was demanding everyone use their pronouns because it was disrespectful not to. I went to try to find this video and I died a little inside and gave up… but I digress.

    You can’t demand anyone do anything. You have to earn their respect for them to treat you with respect. Common courtesy is one thing — yes I acknowledge you as a person, but when you make demands of me and you don’t know me, odds are I’m not going to do them for you.



  2. Well, I guess you were thinking of those baby proggies at Evergreen, stamping their feet and demanding that a video of them – yelling and stamping their feet – be taken down from the internet…


  3. The unearned “honors” and such aren’t respect, either. They’re disguised sneers to keep the recipients docile and off the wannabe elites lawns.


  4. The concept of honor runs all through my fiction, alas respect does not. It is kind of implied, but after reading this I ran a quick scan of my books and alas, respect is a *very* uncommon word. Can you have honorable men and women and not respect? I’m not sure. I’m thinking that maybe they can exist separately and that is not a good thing. Thanks, Nikki, for making me think about the matter.


  5. Completely off topic, and my apologies for posting this here, but you’ve got an ad or something that keeps trying to throw popover banners and it’s breaking my phone’s browser.
    Figured you ought to know an ad isn’t playing nicely with everyone.


    1. I don’t control ads, but I can let WordAds folks know.


    2. See if your browser will let you turn off Javascript for the site. Something here gave my browser fits too.


  6. THIS is so much AWESOME! Honestly, you encapsulated everything I’ve been thinking for a very long time. I was raised on this concept and it’s disheartening to see how many don’t grasp what, to me, – and you as well – is so darned simple!


  7. r e s p e c t ?


    anyway, i think technically that believing that socialism will work and that social justice is a real thing (as opposed to just another way for you to oppress people) counts as worshipping a different sky elf. I mean, it has all the signs of being a religion… maybe even a cult.


  8. “That word… I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    “Respect” has a dictionary meaning… but in some demographics, it now means something between “fear” and “obeisance.” Like a Chinese serf kowtowing to a noble.


  9. Nailed it.
    And not that anyone will notice, but linked.


  10. Very good points. I would extend to saying that anyone who wants to demand anything better have a strong argument put together and a very good reason to explain why giving in to their demands is a good idea.
    My area has had an influx of specialized workers over the last couple of years and I keep seeing lawn signs that say “Demand jobs for local workers”, usually with the name of a union as well. My response is always ‘Why?”. In this case, most local workers don’t have the skills or experience (and often the dedication) to do the jobs. If you can make an argument that the workers are better, cheaper, safer, etc, then I will listen – but I’ve never heard anyone make the argument; instead the people who put up the signs say they have a right to those jobs that ‘others’ are taking from them or keeping from them.


  11. bitter clinging swiftie | Reply

    back in my younger year, when I boxed, and in the gym, we used the term respect in a different context. as in “you got to respect that guy’s left hook” as in realize what it is capable of and act accordingly


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