One oft repeated remark in the staffroom and also from parents on Open Days is that the children just don’t have respect for anything these days. It is a very simple word which can have variable meanings. On one hand it is a regard for feelings, views and wishes of others, while on the other it is a deep admiration for someone or something and it also means to have pride and confidence in one’s own abilities.
We have always been told to respect our elders, teachers and people in a position of authority. Here, respect doesn’t mean to admire them but to have unquestioning faith in their abilities and judgement due to the experience that they have. This kind of respect helps us keep from making mistakes and protects us when we are young but as we grow, we start perceiving matters as per our experiences and start questioning the very things we have followed earnestly. Adolescence is the age when one starts moulding one’s own character and asserting ones choices, which is the reason why teenagers are called rebellious. Being assertive or questioning is not wrong then why are people usually adolescents labelled rebellious? I feel that in their fight to find and keep their place, teenagers become impolite, unapologetic and disrespectful. They feel that they know and understand and hence have a disregard for authority. But what is often forgotten by teenagers is that there is a change in their perception due to the surge in hormones and better cognitive development. A change in perception does not mean that whatever they have grown following or believing holds no value. It is basically these very morals and values that define us as individuals and give strength to our character.
Teenagers are also often blamed for being unapologetic. But to them it is a question of self-respect. They feel that apologising would label them wrong and also would be denying them of their self-respect. This is the very reason why their ‘sorry’ is often a lip service and holds no value.
The respect of the first kind as mentioned in the beginning is what can help at such a juncture, a regard for other’s point of view. One needs to be inclusive in thought as more knowledge is gained with time and experience. Listening to what another has to say not only shows a strength of character on one’s part but also helps in giving a new perspective to the thought process. It is important not only to be open to others’ ideas but also to be willing to pay heed to them if they appear to be worthwhile. Yes, one can always have differences and it only helps us see more possibilities and views to a situation but one should also have the willingness to adapt and adopt if an idea appeals the senses. I had read somewhere that one of the sincerest forms of respect is actually listening. Besides, listening to the people who are concerned about our well-being will definitely not harm in any way. A polite and open discussion does go a long way and shows much maturity on ones part.
Today, one sees many disgruntled souls spewing vitriol about everything around them. So, there is social media, rife with hate posts about others’ religion, eating habits, mindsets, preferences and there are trolls venting their misgivings about everything under the sun, there are people who have taken up the mantle of social guardians and tell the world about how it should behave. But have they given a thought to their behaviour? Have they tried to get into others’ shoes and tried to understand their point of view? If not, it’s high time they do so.
In a nutshell respect rules, values, authority and if you need to question, definitely do so but with politeness. Pay attention to tone and language and assert yourself with conviction but be willing to give in if the other person’s idea or suggestion makes more sense even if you don’t agree to it in the first instance. We can have differences but with respect for one another because, “Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.”

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