R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Just finished rereading Paul Wadell’s excellent Friendship and the Moral LifeHe says this about respect:

ImageRespect is a kind of patience. To respect another person is to take whatever time is necessary to see their goodness. Respect literally means to “look again,” to “take a second look.” It means we cannot settle for first impressions, or casually dismiss people from our lives. To have respect for someone is to look far enough into the person to see their goodness, even if that goodness is more a promise than a fact. We respect them when we call them to this goodness and commit ourself to eliciting it. Respect often takes the form of patience because it is not always easy to see this goodness, and sometimes a person neither recognizes nor lives according to it themself; hence to pledge our self to respect means we take whatever time its necessary to spot the goodness to which God calls them. In this way, respect is an element of justice because to be patient enough to find another’s goodness is to do for another what God does for us all.

As other-recognition leads to self-recognition, McDonagh says other-respect enables self-respect. “Recognition and acceptance of the value of others enables one to recognise and accept the value of the self,” McDonagh writes. “Self-acceptance and self-respect will be as real and effective as one’s other-acceptance and other-respect.” We can be self-accepting to the degree that we are other-accepting, and the more we are able to respect another, to see them in their most promising goodness, the more we are able to respect the dignity and worth uniquely our own.

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