Respect is a two-way street

I grew up in a house where I was taught, regardless of age, that it is important to respect the next person. Growing up and meeting different people, I have noticed the people don’t respect one another. You can earn six figures, own countless businesses, live in a mansion or...

17 September 2019 | Columns

Octavia Tsibes

Imagine being kind, humble and respectful. You have nothing to lose, and as a matter of fact, it costs you nothing to be respectful or kind.

What will you gain from being bitter? Absolutely nothing. Recently I experienced a situation where a group of supposed adults just decided to talk to me with total disrespect.

I asked myself the question: What kind of vile, unhappy person are you?

What makes you think it is okay to treat another person with no respect or consideration whatsoever? How does one just stand up and decide to be vile? These are questions that may as well dissipate into oblivion. I personally categorise these unorthodox manners in the same class as raping and molesting other people, especially those that are underage and pose no danger to anyone. These individuals prey on vulnerability, simply because they have power over the victim.

Our generation needs serious intervention. Young people, as much as we stand up against gender-based violence in our communities, and in the world at large, we need to be careful about the way we treat each other. We have no idea what personal issues someone is facing on a daily basis, so I always emphasise kindness. We just need to be kind and respectful towards one another.

There is something seriously wrong with the way we think, if we think it’s okay to be mean, vile and a downright danger or threat to someone else’s life. It blows my mind how one person can decide they’re going to attack, harass, assault or even rape another human being, who is like you, skin-to-skin or bone-to-bone. Gender-based violence statistics are staggering, which includes rape, which for some reason is part of today’s sociology. The best way, in my opinion, is to have a yearly mandatory psychometric evaluation test, since rape and GBV have become the norm. It is happening on a daily basis and it’s normal to hear about a woman being assaulted, raped and left to die. We sympathise in that moment, and move on; that’s the reality.

In this day and age, respect is something people think is a given, on their lap and straight from heaven, when in fact, respect is earned. It doesn’t matter what race, gender, age or sexual orientation you are. Like water, respect is precious, and unfortunately people don’t think of it that way.

Once we tackle the communication barrier, without the barrier of a lack of respect, the youth at large can overcome so many social and economic problems happening in the world right now.

We will prove to the generation prior to us that we’re not a bunch of self-absorbed, social media-obsessed people, who are in a sunken place. Think about it; with the complete dominance of respect, mutual understanding can be built.

If people actually respected each other’s choices and decisions, we wouldn’t have been in the crises we are dealing with today.

If men decided to respect the word ‘no’, many women who live in fear every day won’t need to.

‘No’ doesn’t mean someone is playing ‘hard to get’, and it doesn’t mean ‘maybe’, it simply means ‘no’. The hardest pill to swallow is that rape, assault and sexual harassment are often perpetrated by those close to us.

It is often not the stranger we cower from, who we glance at from a distance, or the ones we constantly look over our shoulder for.

It is not the stranger who we tell our daughters, nieces, sisters and aunts to be careful of or the creepy guy in the neighbourhood; no, it’s the ones we’re close to - the neighbour your parents trust so much, the uncles we leave our little girls with when we run our errands, the cousin we all thought would play the part of protector and not the one we need protection from.

The world doesn’t only require slogans that last for only a week, the world needs prayer, the world needs us to come together, humbly and with mutual respect. The world needs changing, not because the world has done anything wrong, but because of the kind of people it houses. We need to start thinking about the world we want to leave to our nieces, nephews, sons and daughters. Respect is taught and earned at home, with the intention to spread it to others. I always say: “Treat people exactly how you want to be treated, and spread kindness like confetti!”

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