In a recent conversation, a friend and I discussed how many of the 330-million or so people currently living in the United States (or the 7-or-8 billion on Earth, for that matter) don’t appear to have much respect for themselves.

We agreed that if they did, there would be far, far less division, strife and even crime in all corners of society, and life in general would be simply be easier and better.

Think about it: People who have true, honest respect for themselves wouldn’t be prone to stealing stuff from others, being rude and arrogant toward others or acting like they’re entitled to all manner of favor simply because they’re alive.

People with authentic self-respect have no problem doing things without expecting something in return because they’re not constantly concerned with “what’s in it for me.”

People who legitimately understand what it means to respect themselves also understand what it means to love themselves. And I’m not talking about the superficial “love yourself” stuff that’s so prevalent these days in various types of popular music, magazine content and TV show subject material. That junk is all about self-gratification and self-glorification, and has nothing to do with genuine respect.

In fact, it’s the opposite. It puts self above all else and portrays any other mindset as weakness.

Not that a person shouldn’t maintain a healthy level of self-esteem, because that’s the foundation of actual self-respect. But that trendy self-love nonsense is rooted in brazen selfishness, and little or nothing good could ever come from it.

The Bible says (in Philippians 2:3) that we should “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but rather in humility value others above yourselves.”

That’s also not possible without real self-respect. You have to be able to see beyond yourself to value the well-being of others more than your own, and without an outlook of self-respect, you’re inevitably going to conduct yourself from a self-centered, conceited and largely narcissistic standpoint.

Basically, real self-respect leaves behind pompous egotism, greed and pretentious pride, and allows a person to open a door to things like unconditional self-control and the realization of love in its truest, purest form. I think of it as a relatively untapped resource with the potential to change just about everything for the better.

Anyway, next time you hear people speaking out of arrogance or acting out of a mentality of entitlement, just give them a little grace. They probably just don’t respect themselves enough to act any differently.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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