Nearly anything will earn you respect in the eyes of someone. But only certain things will earn you respect in the eyes of those who are respected. It’s that simple.
So, true respect is not earned through injuring oneself or breaking the law. The respect earned by that is not true and lasting because it must be reaffirmed. It is so important for some people to be respected that they would do that and more. However, the only way to earn respect is to be respectful. Make it an attitude instead of making it a thing given to a person only after they have proven themselves. This way, you will be able to maintain the so-called balance of mutual respect.
Respect is something that many people would do many things just to get it. Some would die for it. Some would endure endless pain and suffering if this will eventually make others respect them. This is seen in many rituals of gangs and usually includes things like cutting, burning, or otherwise injuring oneself simply to earn respect from other gang members. To me, this is ridiculous. If someone cannot respect you for who you are – he or she is not worth the time and effort that it takes to earn their respect. A lot of people try to find respect from others because they feel that their religion tells them to respect and be respected. Unfortunately, this is untrue. At least for Christians. The bible simply says to love and bring others to Christ. This does not mean to earn others’ respect, but just to love them even if they don’t respect you.
In the case of other people, there is a mix of importance placed on respect. Some people, including me, depend only on freely given respect that is acquired through normal acts within your general behavior, rather than sweating blood to impress or earn respect. Sometimes this is confused with not caring about what others think of you to the point where you might behave in a manner that is immoral, illegal, and/or distasteful. For instance, I have a friend who only cares about what many people would call the “lower” class of society thinks of her. Therefore, she is stuck in distasteful, immoral, and often illegal acts that include violence, allowing others to contribute to her delinquency as a minor, and other various forms of immorality and illegality. These acts are often self-destructive and painful to those who love her, i.e., her parents. By lowering herself to this kind of standard, she is getting addicted to being respected at any cost. The world she is living in is a hell to most people, but due to those who give her this version of respect, it cannot be seen as such. I say the “version of respect” because I have seen what kind of respect her “friends” provide her with. These people have no problem with betraying her for drugs or sex or hurting her parents because they think they have the right to do so. I have no right to judge her or her “friends,” only He who sits on high can do that. However, from my mortal point of view, it seems that these people do not know the meaning of respect. I do not see that they respect my friend, or each other, or anyone else.
To me, respect means that you listen to someone’s ideas, follow rules that have been established (i.e., The Ten Commandments, or the law), as well as know when to help someone or ask them if they need help. To respect someone is not to assume that they are invincible, because that is idol worship. Instead, it means to be their friend if they need it, to be able to leave petty disagreements in the past, to follow their wishes if you have prayed and know it is in their best interest, due to knowledge gained from God. That kind of respect is what is important to me. Respect that one received for injuring oneself or breaking a rule is fake, faulty, and will not stand the test of time. True respect is like true love. It is unconditional. It is timeless. Just as true love can never be taken away, respecting someone is always there once established. Trust can be demolished, so can hate, and anger, and envy, and all other bad or good things in this world, but not love and respect. Love is God, and He will never be gone. People respect each other out of love. And once you truly respect someone or something, it cannot be taken away. That may be hard to grasp because usually respect and trust go hand in hand, and I’ve already said that trust can be demolished. However, respect is not the same as trust. Genuine respect is an attitude. It is a state in which you do not defile anyone or anything for your sake. True and real respect is selfless because you give a part of yourself to respect. This, in turn, will become a real reward to you if you choose to respect. This is the kind of respect that is important to me. Without it, I will never truly feel all right or like myself, because I know I have that kind of respect. I earn it by being as respectful as I can, and anyone who won’t respect me for that is not someone whose respect I’m longing for. I will only be respectful to earn respect, as that is all I have to do.