Transcendental Respect

Transcendence is the act of ascending beyond a mundane state to manifest within an absolute superior state. I think of respect as a necessary transcendent state, however, it appears that far too many do not as of late. Demonstrations of disrespect seem more common than those of respect. We've become extremely relativist about respect. It's become a word that most would claim to understand, and many would claim to practice, but most would be challenged to describe what it means in clear language.

Go ahead and try. Define respect off the top of your head. It's not an easy thing to do.

I'd like to believe that most people probably know what respect looks like when they witness it in different contexts. We can likely feel it when respect is occurring, and most people would likely be able to describe what a respectful tone sounds like. Most would likely even agree that respect is necessary for us to get along with each other. Why then are we so often not seeing it, feeling it, hearing it, and practicing it?

Daily we bear witness to realities that are antithetical to respect. Socially, in business, in politics, in organizations, neighborhoods, families, and institutions, we've lost respect for respect. The pure nature of respect has been victimized by subjectivity. Respect has become conditional and relative. We need to reclaim it in ways that all can universally understand. Respect needs to be ubiquitous in our collective psyche; not optional. Moving to this higher plane of awareness will begin with a definition that we can collectively adhere to and take action toward. 
Respect means that you accept somebody for who they are, even when they’re different from you or you don’t agree with them.

Respect in your relationships builds feelings of trust, safety, and well-being.

Respect doesn’t have to come naturally – it is something you learn.

The above description of respect comes from the Kids Help Line in Australia and is probably the simplest definition I've seen for what respect should represent. The question it leaves me with is how do we embody it? I have many thoughts about that.

It would be nice if we could know that kids are naturally and routinely taught how to be respectful, but that would be naive. I can't say that the circumstances of my own youth provided me the best examples of being respectful. I know that schools do their best to instill respect in students, but the influences that kids are often exposed to outside of school create a strong negative current difficult to overcome. It's not too late when we miss the opportunity to teach our kids to be respectful. There are several things we can do to ensure that respect is present and practiced.

Respect is transcendental.

We need to reclaim it that way. This action needs to come before anything else we may also need to do to heal ourselves and be what others need from us. Reclaiming respect is the first step.

I understand what follows will sound ethereal to many, if not most. I'm fine with that. Transcendental things are ethereal by nature. Not being so wouldn't represent the aspirational state of awareness that requires ascension to achieve. Think of the reclaiming respect process as an awakening; a new day. Respect turns our gaze to the east where people feel the warmth of a new sun. Like an infant child, they stare with wonderment at the world surrounding them and begin to simply realize they are part of a complex world; they are learning to be part of something infinitely bigger than themselves. They are confronted by the fact that the world they encounter is one they can't successfully navigate on their own. They're completely dependent on that world for safety and care. Respect begins to form within their psyche as they realize their survival depends on it. They also get a new opportunity to realize the imperative to be respectful with every sunrise witnessed.

It doesn't matter what we do if we don't first reestablish a sense of respect. We can't move forward until this happens. Our survival depends on it. 

Feeling respect starts with an implicit realization fo the importance of learning. It means finding answers to the questions “Why and How.” Answers to these questions point us toward our purpose. Our purpose reveals those who can help us fulfill it. It's easier to realize our purpose when we walk the path of discovery with others. Respect leads to learning and the establishment of self-identity, It orients us toward the evolution from dependence to independence, and then the higher levels of function involved in interdependence. The ultimate realization, and the one that defines respect as authentically transcendental, occurs when we arrive at a place where we feel not only a deep calling to practice respect but also an implicit responsibility to teach others how to be respectful.

So, back in the physical world, how does this look, sound, and feel? 

It looks like...

  • Acceptance
  • Openness
  • Curiosity
  • Decorum
  • Caring
  • Fallibility
  • Humility
  • Subordination
  • Awareness
It sounds...
  • Polite
  • Inquisitive
  • Humble
  • Rational
It feels...
  • Nonjudgemental
  • Accepting
  • Supportive
  • Collaborative
  • Objective
We have to hold ourselves and others accountable for evincing these qualities of respect. Doing so for ourselves requires a will that each individual controls for themselves. Holding others accountable isn't as clear and simple, but if we can begin by exhibiting respect; each one of us a person at a time, perhaps it will begin to inspire others to follow suit. I can say that I've personally been involved in thousands of interactions with less-than-respectful individuals who as a result of my overt effort to be respectful toward them, did thank me and changed the manner in which they were addressing me. Everyone wants to be respected, so let's get on with that.

For those damaged beyond the principle of reciprocity, we will need other tools at our disposal. Legislated rules demanding respect aligned with consequences for those unwilling to adhere to respectful conduct already exist, we definitely need to interpret and apply them more literally and concertedly. Like individuals, organizations of all kinds must also hold their members accountable and build mechanisms to effectively address instances of disrespect, which will necessarily include mechanisms built in to directly teach their members how to be respectful.

Respect has to come first. We cannot move prosperously toward any hopeful future in society if we don't first establish a baseline of respect for each other.


"Kids Help Line- Respect." Kids Help Line Australia, Accessed 7 Apr. 2023.


Popular Posts