Thursday, August 13, 2009


On an attitudinal scale that runs from fear and loathing for another person to the other end of love and admiration, one would find respect somewhere in between.

In a dignitarian society respect for another is a reasonable and feasible aim, respect for another’s full personhood and human rights.

It is unreasonable, however, to expect all people to like each other, much less to love one another as Christianity exhorts.

Yet respect in itself is, at best, a tepid kind of affection. It is merely recognition and positive regard, and it may even be, as the phrase goes, “grudging respect,” a chilly attitude.

Something firmer than respect must be expected of us if we are to treat everyone with due dignity, since respect as an emotion is too fickle and variable.

Instead, the Golden Rule needs to be invoked: Treat others as you want others to treat you; don’t mistreat them any more than you want to be mistreated. Except for masochists that should suffice.

“How would you like it if . . . .?”

That’s the question dignitarians need to ask demeaners and belittlers of others.

Turn the tables on them.