Of Disrespect

When we were young, we didn’t like some people. Because we didn’t know words like ‘obnoxious’ or ‘haughty’ or ‘disdainful’ — we could never explain why we didn’t like those people. Yet, our parents ensured that we ‘respect’ them. Mostly, it was about age. “That person is elder; show respect.”. Respect your elders. (So said, Baz Luhrman, in Sunscreen)

The respect was cautious. While we didn’t feel respect, we feigned it. In the least, we didn’t exhibit disrespect.

Most Indic languages have addressable word-forms that inherently define who you address. So, we have a different word-form for a sibling, a friend, and a senior. In Hindi, e.g. we have tu, tum, aap — you (casual/street), you (formal/common), you (official/respectable), respectively.


By virtue of my upbringing, my education, and having lived in North India for a while, I default to aap — the respectable form, when I speak in Hindi, irrespective of the age of the person. And over time, I discovered, respect and age have nothing in common. Respect is how you see people.

I recently was addressed in the “street form” on Twitter. I did not take exception to it, and continued the Twitter banter. Yet, I was amused. The person was tweeting from an organisational account. I know that the person knows I am “elder” — but I am a fan (of that organisation) as much as a 12yo is a fan. I was not upset; as I said before, I was amused. I live in different times. There’s a flatness, that I live in, which I understand, but confuses me.

Respect, makes the world go round.

Somewhere in the deep recesses of my head, it takes much, to know that person is not worthy of respect. When I see casual mentions of disrespect, I generally ignore them. Not that those who are disrespectful are making it difficult for us, though.

Instinctively, I believe, we are tuned to be respectful. But in recent times, it seems to me that we have been conditioned otherwise. Our default is now to ignore respect; which, mind you, is different from disrespect. Our tired fingers are losing the grip on humanity; our adventures of science (science not in absolute terms, but how we abuse it), are perhaps, the reason we will drop, deep down.

Deep, deep down. In a dark abyss.


4 thoughts on “Of Disrespect

  1. It’s also manifested in the way we speak to our domestic staff / service providers or hawkers, where they’re typically the “tu/tum” and we’re automatically the “aap”. I try and make it a point to use the latter, but truth be told, my Bambaiya upbringing sometimes shines through (although I’m none the happier for it!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s true @ this Bambaiyya language transcending the respect barrier. While respect may be implied, it never shows. Also, as you say, it is a matter of continuous practice and reminding ourselves on our choice of words – based – needless to say – on whether want to show respect! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe it has a lot to do with how education is de-evolving as well, at least as I see it here in the United States. There is so much less self-accountability and so much blame to go everywhere else. How can respect grow in such a culture?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Education devolving is not a US-only-phenomenon – It’s global, as I see it. The concept of respect is much more complex than this post has covered – but you do make a good point about accountability. Self-understanding is at a low, in these times, value-systems are changing, and therefore, perhaps, the concept of respect.

      Welcome to Gaizabonts! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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