KVE301/KVE401 Universal Human Values and Professional Ethics

Chapter 8: Harmony in Family – Understanding Values in Human Relationships

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

Unit 5


Respect (Samman)

Respect means individuality. The sense of individuality is prime object. This is the first basic step towards respect (samman). Once we realized that we are individual then only we can see ourself different from others. In other words:

“Respect means right evaluation, to be evaluated as I am.”

Usually, we make mistakes in our evaluation in the following three ways.

1. Over evaluation – to evaluate more than what it is

If you are wrongly flattered you feel uncomfortable. Eg. You are sitting at home and there are guests around. Your father says ‘My son/daughter is the greatest scholar in India!’ Check for yourself; do you feel comfortable, or do you feel uncomfortable?

2. Under evaluation – to evaluate less than what it is

If you are condemned, you feel uncomfortable. Eg. You are still at home, but this time your father says ‘My son/daughter is good for nothing. He must be the laziest person in all of India!’ You obviously feel uncomfortable, you don’t find this acceptable.

3. Otherwise evaluation – to evaluate otherwise than what it is

If you are evaluated as something else, you feel uncomfortable. Eg. You are at home and there are guests around and your father says ‘You donkey! Can’t you even understand this much?’ You feel offended by this. This is evaluating you otherwise, as you are a human being and not something else.

We can see that any kind of over, under, or otherwise evaluation makes us uncomfortable, we find it unacceptable. We feel ‘disrespected’. We say we have been disrespected when we are wrongly evaluated.

Thus, respect means to rightly evaluate. Can you think of the number of instances when you feel you have wrongly evaluated, and the number of times you may have done the same to others? You would be surprised to find, this happens very often, and we are insensitive about this aspect in relationship. Even though it is the cause of many problems for us in relationship, we ignore the point about respect. We also have many different notions about respect that we currently hold as individuals and as a society. For example, saluting someone is called respecting someone today, even fire guns in the air after people are dead, as a mark of ‘respect’, we put red bulbs on our cars for respect, we build big houses in the thirst for respect, we take care of our clothing, we dress up, we have different hair cuts, we buy fancy cell phones, we boast about the bike we have, a whole lot of things are going on in the world in search for respect.

Respect denotes both a positive feeling of esteem for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion) and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., “I have great respect for her judgment”). It can also be conducted in accord with a specific ethic of respect. Rude conduct is usually considered to indicate a lack of respect, disrespect, whereas actions that honor somebody or something indicate respect. Respect should not be confused with tolerance, since tolerance doesn’t necessarily imply any positive feeling, and is incompatible with contempt, which is the opposite of respect.

On a practical level, it seems to include taking someone’s feelings, needs, thoughts, ideas, wishes, and preferences into consideration. We might also say it means taking all of these seriously and giving them worth and value. In fact, giving someone respect seems similar to valuing them and their thoughts, feelings, etc. It also seems to include acknowledging them, listening to them, being truthful with them, and accepting their individuality and idiosyncrasies.

Respect can be shown through behavior and it can also be felt. We can act in ways that are considered respectful, yet we can also feel respect for someone and feel respected by someone. Because it is possible to act in ways that do not reflect how we really feel, the feeling of respect is more important than the behavior without the feeling. When the feeling is there, the behavior will naturally follow.

Basis for respect - Proposals

When it comes to respect a human being, will you respect a human being on the basis of ‘I’ or body? If you respect a human being on the basis of ‘I’, the following things are true for every human being:

    1. I want happiness and prosperity.
      • The other too wants to be continuously happy and prosperous!
    2. To be happy, I need to understand and live in harmony at all four levels of my living.
      • The other also needs to understand and live in harmony at all four levels of his/ her living!
    3. The activities in me (‘I’) are continuous, we can check this for our desires, thoughts, and expectations.
      • It is the same for the other ‘I’ as well. The activities are continuous there as well, and the other too has continuous desires, thoughts, and expectations!

When we see the above, what can we conclude? The other person also feels quite like me! There are so many similarities! Let us put down these similarities, in order:

    1. We both want to have continuous happiness and prosperity.
      • Our basic aspiration is the same.
    2. We both need to have the right understanding, which is to understand and live in harmony at all four levels of our living.
      • Our program of action is the same.
    3. The activities and powers of the self are continuous and the same in both of us – at the level of ‘I’.
      • Our potential is the same.

Based on these three evaluations we can conclude that

The other is similar to me.

When we are able to see that the other is similar to me, we are able to recognize the feeling of respect in the relationship. If not, we either hold ourselves, more or less than the other and this only leads to differentiation.

Summarized by – Dr. Niyati Garg

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