Universally, almost all the human beings want respect. Respect is the ultimate thing which everyone is running after. We can see people around us running after different things- right from physical power to political powers. People around us always try to acquire at least one of the items from this list- money, power, knowledge etc., the list being unending. If we give it a thought, all of them are actually running behind only one thing- respect. People try to earn money because money brings respect. After my long interactions with many of my friends, I ultimately conclude that even highly knowledgeable persons earn the knowledge only because it brings respect. As usual, we have a few exceptions to this general statement.
Last week, while going through a magazine which I found lying on the desk of an NGO office, I found a very nice and revealing definition of respect. This definition is given by one of the most controversial authors we have with us, Salman Rushdie. I have not read any one his books, but this magazine had published a speech delivered by him to the association of newspaper editors in USA. In this article, Mr. Salman Rushdie touched many topics, from role of press to how a society should be. In the course of his speech, Mr. Salman Rushdie put forward this enlightening definition of respect-
Respect is a mixture of goodhearted consideration and serious attention
I find this definition to be an ideal definition. As we all know, respect has become a very sacred and dangerous word. Many times, respect is used as a weapon. In the scope of conventional definition of respect, respecting someone means equating him with almighty and assuming him to be someone infallible.
Apart from all the above mentioned points, what hurts me is the big distance which respect creates. Generally, when we respect someone, we treat him as if he is someone special. This in a way leads to a conclusion that he has someone higher, better and different than us and hence, we cannot be and should not try to be like him. I know many people around who respect Osho. But, sadly, when they respect him, they start treating him as someone super natural. And yes, this gives them concession from trying to be like Osho. In this way, we respect all the great individuals around. This corrupted definition of respect is percolated in all the fields- from spirituality to science, from music to engineering.
Considering all this background, I find Salman Rushdie’s definition very fresh and inspiring. It necessarily keeps away all the wrong considerations which have been attached with the word ‘respect’ for hundreds of years. Respecting some one is nothing but to give a serious try to understand that person. This try should be open, unbiased and it should not arrive out of some compulsion. This definition has become dear to me because of its one more aspect- it nowhere says that you have to agree with the opinions of person you respect. Only a goodhearted consideration and serious attention is needed.
Have we ever given goodhearted consideration and serious attention to persons and thoughts and actions of the persons we respect? We know the answer…….