A Humanist’s Perception of Respect


Artwork by N*Studio

I’m not expert in social studies and ethics but I believe that there are things that don’t require academic knowledge because they are simple and innate to us as human beings. Among these attributes is respect. Through all the ups and downs of life, we learn new things from one experience to another. Although respect is something that we first learn at home, we could continue to garner new knowledge about it as we grow up and meet new people. As far as my observation and learning are concerned, I want my kids to understand the simplicity and complexity of the term ‘respect’. Following are the things that I teach them.

Respect, just like empathy, is putting your feet in someone else’s shoes. How would you feel when someone tells you that you look terrible, and that you deserve ill fate because of your ideology and belief? People perceive reactions in different ways but it is important to be aware of our own gauges. Therefore, respect has something to do with being tactful; well, not in all cases. There are things that need to be said frankly and openly for them to be understood as they should be, but then again, we still need to consider the feelings of others.

Respect has no culture, race, language nor religion; it is universal. This world is full of different ideologies, cultures and beliefs, but these are small things compared to the universality of respect. Respect should not be judged because of these differences. Taking into account the way Filipinos convey respect to the elderly, children and adults alike use words such as “po” and “opo” among others. However, not all Filipinos are used to saying these words, particularly those who are in the Visayas and the Mindanao islands whose dialects are not Tagalog. There are times that people from these regions — children in particular — are mistaken for being disrespectful because they do not say “po” and “opo” like the Tagalog-speaking people do. Language is not the measure of respect, for respect goes beyond it.

Respect starts with oneself. We cannot truly respect others if we do not know how to respect ourselves. This starts with knowing our rights, responsibilities, and limitations. This also means knowing our passions; determining our goals and principles; acknowledging that we deserve nothing less than the respect we have for ourselves; and knowing that our rights serve as our protection when we feel exploited, abused or limited in our freedoms. By these, we can understand others more and show respect regardless of ideologies, languages, cultures, beliefs and other barriers, all while expressing ourselves better.

Respect is as vast as our humanity; it goes beyond time or age. This is to say that respect is a two-way street, not for children to give to adults only, but vice versa. We can teach respect by showing respect to our children. Respect has no name, position nor status; it is for everyone. Also, it is not exclusive to the human race, but includes the rest of the natural world — other species that coexist with us in many environments.

For me, respect is one of the main branches of love, as love could not be shown without respect. As a humanist, I believe that respect is one of the moral values that humans can use as a language to understand one another along with empathy. Respect is hard to perfect at once but could be developed through time, personal realizations and moments of enlightenment.



The Author







Kristiane Fallarcuna

  • Social Media and Web Assistant
  • Lover of the natural world
  • Proud mom

“Life is erratic. Find the errors, fix them and win life.”