by Arturo Espinoza
The idealist in me has always believed that most people are generally honest, have some degree of integrity and tend to know what respect is about. But I’ve also learned, to my chagrin, that many of us (including myself) have learned much about ourselves, our motives and behaviors by making mistakes. And, various dysfunctions and other psychological disorders notwithstanding, the hope here is that if we paid attention to the nature of those mistakes, we wouldn’t make them again, right? Unfortunately, life is never that simple. Because of this universal and enigmatic conundrum known as the human factor, we often tend to repeat those same mistakes. So, how do all of these core values, these qualities actually work?
Throughout my own life, I’ve met many people that have reflected those qualities to one degree or another. But what is a quality? After all, it’s not possible to tackle dealing with concepts like honesty, integrity and respect without touching on this word as a whole. For instance, one online dictionary defined the word “quality” as: 1) The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind. ... The degree of excellence of something; 2) A distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something.
On a more personal level, I can honestly say that I’ve met many people who have been honest with me or shown me honesty in that they were willing to be trustworthy, and I knew they weren’t going to lie about important matters. Going along with this example, various dictionaries define the word “honesty” as “the quality or fact of being honest; uprightness and the quality of being truthful.”
I’ve also met people with integrity, which is defined as:
- The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles and as being morally upright;
- The state of being whole and undivided;
- The condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction.
Still a more general definition of integrity included “internal consistency or lack of corruption in electronic data” with the attributes of “internal consistency” and “lack of corruption,” as sticking out like a sore thumb. On the altruistic (and some might even say spiritual) level, people with integrity often do what they need to do because it’s the right thing to do, even if a situation is unpleasant or life-threatening.
Obviously then, we can see that the idea of honesty and integrity cannot be seen as being real without accepting that those terms are qualities that are part and parcel of the human landscape.
So where does the quality of respect fit? And as challenged by the theme questions driving this piece: what is respect? Can respect exist in the absence of honesty and integrity? How is respect earned?
Again as defined by various dictionaries, the meaning of “respect” is shown as:
- A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements;
- The state of being admired in such a way;
- Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others;
- (respects), a person’s polite greetings; and
- A particular aspect, point, or detail.
Although people are still arguing about this, I subscribe to the idea that values are both learned by example and that as a sentient race, we also have an innate or spiritual component that helps to keep most of us attuned to these qualities. In the end, I would say without any doubt that in most cases, the human race shares these core values to one degree or another, depending on their background and life experiences.
I am also of the conviction that respect cannot exist in the absence of honesty and integrity because, like those vital qualities, respect is also an integral part of the human landscape. And like those qualities, respect is earned by example; that is, by the moral and ethical reactions and actions as demonstrated by our fellow citizenry and by those friends and families whom we pray for, love, care for and admire. And when all is said and done, I humbly agree with country singer Luke Bryan’s positive lyric/statement, “I believe most people are good.”