The Foundational Edict of Respect

Social IssuesPhilosophy

  • Author Kidus Melake
  • Published April 26, 2021
  • Word count 1,008

This story entails the measures I believe one should take when relaying their respect for others. It has been written in the manner of a person speaking to his past self; conveying to his past caricature the foundational edict of respect necessary in order to lead a pleasant life and have fulfilling interactions with individuals. His former self will be referred to by the alias Saul. While his present self will be referred to by the alias Paul.

Paul is a man with integrity. He tries his best to relay his respect to others as often as he can. Although he isn’t perfect at it; through many unfortunate occasions he has learned the value of respecting others. His former self who goes by the name Saul is the embodiment of a man who has positive intentions but makes negative decisions. Saul understands the importance of respect, but doesn’t understand the effect it has on those he chooses to disrespect due to conflicting views, social norms, and trauma.

On a quiet Monday night Paul was fast asleep. When all of a sudden he found himself in a dream; he see’s Saul from a distance approaching him. They take a seat near a flock of ducks by the pond. It is a bright Friday morning; the cool summer breeze is blowing across the pond and past the vibrant trees when Paul asks Saul “how has life been going for you?”. Saul laughed while shaking his head and said “you know how my life has been.” Paul laughed as well and replied “well you are right about that; you aren’t just a figment of my imagination.” Saul fakes a smile. Paul knows that the person he is now is the manifestation of Saul’s worst nightmare. He can tell by the look in Saul’s eyes. They spoke for the next half hour. It got to the point where Saul’s irritation of Paul’s presents became obvious.

Paul asks “what happened? Why are you giving me that look?” Saul replies with a stern tonality saying “you! That’s what happened. You have strayed away from your purpose; you’ve become soft.” Paul looks to the side; giving Saul’s claims some thought. He replies back to him saying “what was my purpose? I thought my purpose in life was to become the best person I can be to myself and those around me.” Saul quickly replies and says “yes; of course that’s your purpose. How can you be the best version of yourself when you have relinquished your position of power? How do you expect to help others without some grasp of authority in which you can use to extend your good well?”

Saul is a man with power. He has authority; he oversees the manufacturing and distribution of propaganda to influence foreign relations. He understands the importance of the individual’s mind but yet believes that the collective and their action is what’s needed to ensure change in society for the good. In other words; he believed his work is a necessity, so he lives by the noble lie. Saul doesn’t hesitate to hinder other people’s views when they conflict with his; regardless of it being in his personal life or in his line of work. Disrespecting and shaming people along with their families, disrupting a whole nation's way of life. Believing he is doing good; blinded by the noble lie.

“Extend my good well you say…” said Paul. “answer this for me Saul, is there something you can unequivocally say is good in this world? Since if my past endeavors were genuinely good they would have not caused harm; even to the most undetectable extent.” Paul understands in the most ideal sense there is such a thing as unequivocal goodness; everyone wants to end world hunger, but when implementing the actions needed to end the food shortage we base our judgment on which action is the lesser evil. If there was enough food to feed 3 million people; we have to pick out the people suffering the most and feed them first. We always have to pick from the lesser evil.

Paul goes on to explain this mannerism to Saul. Since Paul knew that by disrespecting and limiting other peoples views for what Saul interpreters as his contribution to the greater good; not only brought more harm because he didn’t choose the lesser evil which is to respect all people, nation, and lifestyles but also caused residual resent towards him from those people and nations he chose to disrespect and from those people and nations he chose to limit his respect from. Paul understands that when dealing with people; the lesser evil is to show respect. Even if his values, social norms, or trauma he had to deal with in the past conflict with whatever that person is saying or doing.

A key thing to remember when showing respect is. Respect is not the same as agreement. Saul is a man that instigated and participated in mass genocide. Saul is a man who had positive intentions but made negative decisions. Unlike good and bad; positive and negative can coexist. Since the lesser evil is the action in which the positive implementations outweigh the negative. Good isn’t truly good if it has a bit of bad in it; bad isn’t truly bad if it has a bit of good in it. Inevitably regardless of how selfish or selfless one might be they are always the center of their world. Paul explains that acknowledging people as the center of their world will ensure that he can provide the foundational amount of respect to those around him regardless of how vile their actions and words may be or have been. This is done not only because every individual is the center of their world and should be treated as such; but because the greater evil is to refrain from giving respect while the lesser evil is gladly giving respect to all.

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