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For the longest time, we have been afraid. Afraid to have an opinion, afraid to voice our doubts, afraid to feel and slowly, afraid to even think something that doesn’t conform to the age old or popular views.
In a workshop a few weeks ago, I was in a discussion where a person said if something doesn’t conform to what our elders believe in, then we shouldn’t say such things out of ‘respect’ to them.
Respect is a word which I feel is highly misinterpreted as well as grossly misused.
If I believe in something that a person X doesn’t believe in, am I disrespecting that person? Now that person could be my parent, my grandparent, my husband, my child, my anything. How is exercising a person’s right to have opinions and voicing them being ‘disrespectful’?
There are so many things which I have zero respect for. There are so many things in the world I cannot ever respect. There are parts in almost every religion where even if I tried, I won’t ever be able to respect the line of thought. There are people whose thoughts I cannot ever respect. That’s the truth.
Another truth is, even if I don’t respect a particular person’s thoughts, a particular religion’s ideology, or a trend, I would no matter what, at any cost still respect their right to exist.
Not respecting a thought is not the same as disrespecting that thought. That’s what we need to remember.
The word respect cannot be used to silence opinions.
In matters of having different opinions, I have till now come across three kinds of people. Those who say voicing any opinion against a person, doctrine or tradition is being disrespectful , those who say one can have a different opinion but what’s the need to express that opinion out loud, and those who say voicing opinions of dissent is as essential as having traditions, cultures and doctrines in the first place.
As humanity is evolving, it seems humans are becoming more and more conservative in terms of associations, in terms of sticking to a particular line of thought, in terms of following traditions and religions by labelling dissent or a difference in opinion as being ‘disrespectful’.
It seems a lot of us are afraid to dissent simply because dissent gives a person the opportunity to think rationally, explore the reason for the dissent and be able enough to communicate it well. This process results in clarity of thought and a logical approach to life. But, it also seems to shake the foundations of a lot of people, ideas, traditions and religions. Hence, the word ‘respect’.
Respect goes both ways. Respecting the other’s opinion and respecting the right of the other to have that opinion is how things should work. But, the moment we start expecting the other person to either not express dissent or agree with one particular view, at that very moment, we are disrespecting a human being’s existence as an independent, rational and able being.
So, it’s not a sin to not respect something. Also, it is indeed a sin to not respect the right to exist of that something.
Know the difference.
First published at author’s blog
Image via Pixabay
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