“Respect” In European Tradition

African Tradition demands that African people maintain accountability to higher powers (i.e. God)—and regardless of the aspect of life. European Tradition has no such accountability because they follow the teachings of Pythagoras (480-411 BC) that says: “Man is the measure of all things” and not God.

This means that whereas in African Tradition Respect involves things of the “Heart,” in European tradition Respect concerns things of the “Head.” Heart Things embrace Human Love, as manifested by Ma’at Selfless Service. Whatever is anti-loving is not deserving of respect.

“Head” things serve ones best interest. When the word “Respect” came into the English language (c 1380) it derived from Latin “specere” (“to look back at”; “to observe”) with reference to an act of noticing with attention and to give deference with an admiring attitude or at least with courteous treatment (e.g. listen, make thing pleasant, and do what is asked). Out of such considerations sprang the discriminating terms of high regard and honor. At that time and similar to what happened with Dignity, to Ho no r signified an evaluation or estimation as the basis of recognition of the worth (pleasure or displeasure in a Western sense) or value (desirable materialism) of something.

As a result, “honor” was thought of as a fixed price for the purpose of ranking a given person or object on the proper rung of the Ladder of Importance (Bailey, Self-Esteem, p. 16).Whatever was on the highest rung was given the most deferential regard (16th century) because it was of the highest agreed upon quality by European experts or by those in power. This made “respect” a somewhat “colder” term than either “Appreciate” (the European sense being that of a combined value and worth of something) or “Esteem” (the combination of regard, respect, and appreciation). The reason is that “Respect” embraced honor and confidence without any particular feelings whether referring to a person or thing—and was based on the admiration of a person’s desirable characteristics and competence—as determined by one or more observers who used their own man-made standards and criteria. When a person assessed him/herself by these three factors of regard, respect, and appreciation— in personal qualities, in natural and acquired quantities, in character related behaviors, and in work products—the result was ones Self-Esteem. If the ranking of ones Self-Esteem was high, one was said to have Self-Respect.

In 15th century Europe Individualism, Materialism, and Dishonorableness (e.g. the Seven Deadly Sins) were esteemed and the people gave the highest respect to those who did evil things in the greatest magnitude and, as a result, came out winners. Then, as now, they respected the most what they feared the most. It was like an odd game and that “gaming” European mindset continues to this day. The sense of ‘worthy’ respect (e.g. from good social standing and reputation or moderate excellence or fairly good as opposed to that of a spiritual nature) appeared in 1750.

Thereafter, Respect became closely allied to admiration—involving more judgment and less emotion; more intellect and less feeling; and, in other words, more permanent and perhaps the most rationalized sentiment.

Still, the “gaming” aspect of European respect invited people to engage in dishonorable acts in hopes of gaining respect. Typically, in the Western world one must respect oneself before others will show respect. The showing of any sign of weakness by non-Whites, coupled with the “sick” beliefs of Whites that any minority’s (or even lower class Whites) social standards are inferior and less dependable, serves as a “call to action” for Whites to stomp on and even kill the weak person. The same applies to what they respect and envy. This means that although “Respect” is used on a daily basis, when asked to define it people are unable to do so with clarity or conciseness and base what their explanation on what it means to them rather than upon a higher power standard.