Freshmen at University of Connecticut
Respect is one of the important qualities emphasized in the Nepali community. Even before we learn to speak, we are taught to greet by putting our hands together and saying namaste. And, we are urged to greet every person older than us by doing so simply out of respect. By giving a person respect, you are giving them worth. So, shouldn’t every person be respected? Respect in our community seems to be categorized by age: the young ones must always respect their elders. However, respect should be given to all -those who are younger, older, the same age as us, or different age from us.
It is true that we should respect our elders because they have more experience of the world and most want the good for us. However, when respect becomes one-sided, it becomes a play of power: elders get more power than the younger ones. And, people are taken advantage of when power is disbalanced. There are imperfect people in every age group. A person cannot be trusted simply because of their age. Some adults are rude. Some adults talk down to young kids while others ignore their opinions just because they are younger. Those kinds of people do not deserve respect. A person can’t be expected to be treated well if they don’t treat others well.
We must respect other groups of people. We are proud to be Nepali and we celebrate our culture even in America. Many of us know what being an outsider, or being different feels like, but still find it difficult to give the same kind of respect to other people. America is a country of people from many different backgrounds -most people are here for better opportunities and almost all are working hard every day to achieve that. Isn’t it unfair to judge other people based on how they look? Think of your own experiences. Even if we don’t know every person very well, it doesn’t hurt to be kind to them. Nothing good comes from negatively judging the lives of other people.
It is very important to respect ourselves. We should know what makes us feel safe and comfortable. We should be able to get out of situations that make us feel bad. If a person older than you makes you feel uncomfortable, then there is absolutely no need to have respect for them. It is okay to not smile at that person; it is okay to not talk to that person; it is okay to not say “namaste” to that person. Don’t give them “respect” just because society tells you to. Respect is in your hands and you can make the decision to show it to whoever you want. Respecting yourself means not being too hard on yourself: take breaks, understand yourself, learn about yourself, do what makes you happy. If you don’t respect yourself, how will others respect you?
We can respect others in many different ways. One may respect somebody who inspires them a lot by thinking highly of them and treating them nicely. Another may show respect by simply listening to somebody, being kind to somebody, and being thankful among many other things. We have to try to understand and treat one another with equal respect if we want to help our society. Trust and show your respect for the people in your community, but also know your worth.