Respect is a great benchmark for harmony in one’s life. It gives everyone the space to be free, and from it springs kindness and non-judgement, which of course, makes the world a better place. Respect also guides our manners. There are plenty of people, ideas, and beliefs that will not be our cup of tea in this life, but if we treat them with respect, we will do just fine.

Many a memorable relationship, in fact, is built on respect, which brings me to the perfect story. When I was at Uni I was part of an unlikely trio ~ a Buddhist from Sri Lanka, a born-again Christian from Down Under, and tree-hugging, crystal-loving, way-out-there spiritual me! The three of us were the best of friends for two years. And it worked exceptionally well because we all had respect for each other.

I clearly recall one day when my Christian friend and I were rushing along the crowded pathways from one lecture hall to another, I mentioned a friend’s daughter who was in a coma after a terrible accident. My Christian friend stopped dead, took my hands in hers and said, ‘Let’s pray now’ … and she did, as everyone rushed past. It came straight from her heart, and it was wonderful. That was probably the only time her religion ever came up ~ that, and when she wanted to atone for smoking so much pot, but then she reckoned that’s when she did her best assignments. And that’s the thing you see ~ we were all real and honest about our lives. If any of us had been zealots or hypocrites it would not have worked.

We accepted each other just as we were, we listened to each other, we supported each other, and rather than make value judgements, we valued each other. When my Christian friend smoked her pot we never said she wasn’t a good Christian, and when my Buddhist friend ate meat we never said she was a bad Buddhist, and when I said I didn’t believe in the dogma of religion or in gurus neither of them judged me. Respect is basically about allowing ~ allowing others to be themselves, recognizing that they have worth, and treating them accordingly.

Of course, one must respect oneself as we would want others to respect us. That is vital, but I love that I hold others in high enough regard to respect them. It feels really good. Ultimately, for us all to get along life is about ‘live and let live’ in harmony, and its respect that will get us there.

Inara Hawley © 2015

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