Do you think respect is owed? To you, for instance?
No. No one is owed you. Nothing that is another’s to give is owed you. Not their regard, not their respect, not even their attention. Certainly not their company.
This is all theirs, and it is all free. Free to give, free to keep. So if someone says their respect is earned, then their respect is earned and that’s all there is to it.
That’s why people still think respect is earned. Because their respect, which is theirs to give or keep as they wish, is earned.
Having said that, I respect people by default. I respect their autonomy, you know. They don’t have to act how I like. They don’t have to be how I like, they don’t have to agree with me. If someone has no respect or low respect, I’ll still treat them with respect. Why? Why would I treat someone with respect who has low-to-no respect?
Well, because I have self-respect.
Their respect level just tells me what their respect is worth. Tells me their respect isn’t worth wanting. That’s cool. It’s no reason to lower my own respect level. Why should I give any less than my strongest best just because somebody else chooses to go low, weak, nasty or mean? Bad as they want to be?
How it is my problem they make themselves look bad?
That’s cool. They can make themselves look bad. But that’s their style, not mine.
In practice, because of my preferred mode of giving me, nobody needs to “earn” my respect. Because I have self-respect, and for my self-respect giving me shit doesn’t cut it. There’s no need! There’s no advantage. Really, people acting that way is weak sauce. I’m much happier bringing my A-game.
However the respect I give people – even indiscriminately – is still entirely my choice. My preference.
They may earn it. Many people have earned my respect. But purely on my own option, I was treating them with respect anyway. The ones who haven’t earned my respect, even the ones who never will, I prefer to treat with respect. Besides, people have all kinds of weird ways to act. Sometimes it takes time before people make sense to each other. I don’t know that any given person never will earn my respect, but it stands to reason some won’t.
Well, they don’t have to.
But that’s me. With some other people out there, they will have to. If they want that person’s respect, they will have to earn it. Some people’s respect is earned.
Cool enough beans! That’s their call. I respect it. Their respect; theirs to give, theirs to keep – any basis they wish. If you don’t respect that?
Fine. Don’t earn it then! Problem solved. You can start by telling them you don’t respect their call on their own respect, and who they have to give it to. That’s a fast train to an earned no-respect level, I suspect! Thoroughly-earned.
You can’t at one and the same time claim you respect people while also claiming their attitudes, dispositions and gifts are yours to dictate.
That’s disrespectable stuff.