The positive emotions we associate with the people or things in our lives can vary quite drastically. We might feel love; we might feel fondness. Desire, kinship, envy, even respect. Beyond all of those feelings, however, lies a deep and powerful feeling of admiration bordering on worship: reverence.
The things we revere can tell us a lot about ourselves, about what we value and who we want to be.
For example, if your reverence is to a deity, you might be a deeply religious person, which can shape your social circle and your views on others. If you revere an idea, like equality, that might influence your political views and actions. Those with reverence for money might seek out high-paying careers.
It might seem illogical, but you can even revere irreverence. Someone who is an iconoclast, who bristles at authority or expectations of normality, irreverence may be held up above all else.
What do you revere?
To figure this out, you might think about what you have been drawn to your entire life. What books you read, what topics of conversation come up again and again. Think about what ideas resonate with you.
Do you think you share this with the people you spend time with, either your family, your friends, or your co-workers? How important is it that you revere the same things as the people around you? How important is it to find a group of people who revere the same things as you?
Related questions: What is important? Why is love important? What humbles you? How important is respect?
The notion of respect plays an important role in our life and in our culture. We have sayings like, “respect your elders”. Often, it is among the first social lessons parents teach their children. There is even a song that spells it out: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
With that in mind, it seems natural that some people get upset when disrespect is shown. They might get particularly agitated when the subject matter is something they care passionately about.
However, there is an obvious problem: there are no rules about what deserves respect and what doesn’t. Or how to show it.
In some instances, we codify these rules into laws. For instance, you should respect the sanctity of human life. Then if you do not, there are legal consequences.
But not every issue rises to that level of importance. For those that do not, how should we deal with it when two people disagree?
It might seem important to respect the beliefs of others. But what if one of those beliefs is something you strongly disagree with? Or that you feel places someone else in danger?
For example, let’s consider the issue of spanking. One person might believe that spanking is a good way to discipline a child. Another person may view spanking as child abuse. Should we respect the rights of a parent to raise their child the way they wish, or the beliefs of the person concerned for the welfare of that child?
The scale for what deserves respect is a sliding one, different for each individual. We all have different values, and finding common ground can be challenging.
How important is respect? What should the consequences be for disrespect? Who should decide what should be respected and what shouldn’t?
Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? How can we encourage debate? What do we have in common? What does it mean to be thankful? Where does authority come from? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?