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Reflections on Respect

  • Date Submitted: 11/28/2010 04:28 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 51.2 
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Reflections on Respect
Gopalkrishna Gandhi

|Trust, belief, credibility and trustworthiness are under threat. We must value them the more for their being in trouble.         |

Respect is either there or not there. You cannot have gradations of it, like Respect Vibhushan, Respect Bhushan, Respect Shri. Respect is Respect.
Respect does not come from reasoning. Respect comes instinctively from the thought. “Here is one I respect.”
Recipients of public respect have been broadly of three kinds: First, those whose status or authority commands respect, as for example kings, judges, popes, bishops, mathadhipatis, generals, ‘captains' of industry. Second, those who get entitled to respect by ties of family or of social assemblage. Third, and most significant, those whose lives and deeds, not their nativity, not their office or seniority, have generated wide and deep respect for them.
Today, respect for those in high office, that is to say, respect for men and women with status, is in some difficulty.
The public is no fool. It judges. From tea-stall owners, vegetable vendors, autorickshaw and taxi drivers to fellow-commuters on a train, metro-coach, or bus, all evaluate high-office holders.
Many holders of high office are elected to them. The process of election is now used skilfully by the electorate as a political exercise that may or may not be connected with a moral evaluation. Several enter the fray because they command resources, not because they command respect. They command loyalty, they command obedience, they command admiration, they command fear. And because after commanding all these, they still want to command respect, they get their followers to try to commandeer it. But people, simple people, are able to perceive the intrinsic quiddity or thingness of a person almost by instinct, just as they are able to tell a good potato from one that has gone fungoid.
C. Rajagopalachari never contested or won an election in independent India, but public respect...

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