Monday, April 26, 2010
'A form of attention'
Respect -- the currency of infinite value
Paul Woodward, War in Context: Respect is one of those words we use so often we rarely pause to consider its meaning. It describes an attitude, yet its Latin root, specere, to look, indicates that this is really a form of attention.
To be respectful is to attentively incline oneself towards the other in recognition of their autonomy and integrity.
There is no one we can respect and simultaneously try to change. When we coerce or manipulate someone, we cannot respect them because our attention is focused not on them but on what we want.
If one views respect as a resource, nowhere is it generally more scarce than among the powerful.
The conceit of power is that power elicits respect, when in truth the tokens of respect bestowed on the powerful are rarely more than expressions of fear, envy or duty. (Hence an underlying paranoia haunts the powerful; they know they are the beneficiaries of a social investment that could, if things turn sour, be swiftly withdrawn.)
Respect is not the fruit of power... On the contrary, it is a self-propagating virtue that becomes mirrored through its own expression.
Image source here.