PHILOSOPHER: Concretely, then, where should we begin? When education, coaching and assistance adopt self-reliance as their objective, where is the point of entry? To be sure, this may be an area of concern. But there are clear guidelines here. YOUTH: I’m all ears. PHILOSOPHER: There is only one answer. It is ‘respect’. YOUTH: Respect? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. No other point of entry is possible in education. YOUTH: Another surprising answer! So, in other words, what you’re saying is: respect your parents, respect your teachers and respect your boss? PHILOSOPHER: No. First of all, for example, in a class you have respect for the children. Everything starts from there. YOUTH: I do? For these kids who can’t be quiet and listen to someone for even five minutes? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. It could be a relationship between parent and child, or within a company organisation, but it doesn’t matter—in any kind of interpersonal relationship, it is the same. Initially, the parent respects the child and the boss respects his subordinates. The roles are such that the person standing on the ‘teaching side’ has respect for the person standing on the ‘being taught side’. Without respect, no good interpersonal relationships can come about, and without good relations, one’s words will not reach anyone. YOUTH: You’re saying I should respect each and every problem child? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. Because at the root of it is ‘respect for people’. One’s respect is not limited to specific others, but extends to other people of all kinds, from family and friends to unknown passers-by, and even to people in other countries whom one will never meet as long as one lives. YOUTH: Ah, another lecture on morality! Or else it’s religion. Well, I’ve got to say, you’re giving me a good opportunity. It’s true that morality is included in the curriculum in school education; that it has such a position. I concede that there are many people who believe in those values. But consider this. Why is it even necessary to talk sense into children about morality? It’s because children are immoral beings by nature, as are all humans. Heck, what is ‘respect for people’ anyway? Look, for both you and me, at the very depths of our souls, there drifts the repulsively putrid stink of immorality! You preach on what is moral to immoral people. I am seeking morality. This truly is intervention, nothing less than force. The things you say are full of contradictions. I’ll say it again: your idealism will have no effect at all in an actual situation. And besides, how can you expect me to respect these problem children? PHILOSOPHER: Then, I will say it again, too. I am not preaching morality. And next, the other point is that especially with people like you, I have to get you to know, and to actually practise, respect. YOUTH: Well, enough of that already! I don’t want to hear empty theories that reek of religion. I’m asking you for concrete examples that are practicable tomorrow. PHILOSOPHER: What is respect? Here is a definition: ‘Respect denotes the ability to see a person as he is; to be aware of his unique individuality.’ These are the words of the social psychologist Erich Fromm, who moved from Germany to America to escape Nazi persecution around the same time as Adler. YOUTH: The ability to be aware of his unique individuality? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. One sees that person, who is irreplaceable and utterly unique in the world, just as he is. Moreover, Fromm adds, ‘Respect means the concern that the other person should grow and unfold as he is.’ YOUTH: I don’t understand. PHILOSOPHER: Not trying to change or manipulate the other person who is right there in front of you. Accepting that person as he is without setting any conditions. There is no greater respect than this. Then, on being accepted by another person ‘as one is’, one is likely to gain a great courage. And respect may also be regarded as the starting point of encouragement.YOUTH: No way! That is not the respect that I know. Respect is a kind of emotion akin to yearning, a sort of imploring that one can rise to the occasion. PHILOSOPHER: No. That is not respect, but fear, subordination and faith. It is a state in which one fears power and authority and worships false images without seeing anything of the other person. The Latin respicio, which is the root of ‘respect’, has the connotation of ‘seeing’. First of all, one sees the person as he is. You have not seen anything yet, and neither have you tried to see. Place value on the person being that person without pushing your own value system on them. And further, assist in their growth or unfolding. That is precisely what respect is. In the attitude of trying to manipulate or correct another person, there is no respect whatsoever. YOUTH: So, if I accept them as they are, will these problem children change? PHILOSOPHER: That is not something you can control. Maybe they will change, and maybe they will not. But as a result of your respect, each of the students will accept themselves for being who they are and regain the courage to be self-reliant. There is no doubting this. Whether they use their regained courage is up to each student. YOUTH: So that’s the separation of tasks? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. You can lead them to water, but you can’t make them drink. No matter how gifted you are as an educator, there is no guarantee that they will change. But it is precisely because there is no such guarantee that one has unconditional respect. First you have to start. Without setting any conditions whatsoever, and regardless of what the anticipated results might be, it is you who takes the first step. YOUTH: But nothing will change that way. PHILOSOPHER: In this world, no matter how powerful one is, there are two things that cannot be forced. YOUTH: What are they? PHILOSOPHER: ‘Respect’ and ‘love’. For example, let’s say the person at the top of a company organisation is an authoritarian despot. The employees will follow his orders, certainly. And they will probably display obedient behaviour. But that is submission based on fear, without an iota of respect. He can shout, ‘Respect me,’ but none of them will comply. In their hearts, they will just grow more and more distant from him. YOUTH: Yes, I’m sure they will. PHILOSOPHER: On top of that, if no mutual respect exists, then there is no relationship as human beings, either. An organisation like that is just assembling groups of humans to function as its nuts and bolts and gears. It can carry out machine-like labour, but no one else can do the human work. YOUTH: Okay, enough roundabout talk, already! So, basically what you’re saying is that I’m not respected by my students, and that’s why the classroom gets out of control? PHILOSOPHER: If there is fear even for a short time, it is unlikely for there to be any respect. It’s only natural that the class will get out of control. You just stood by idly as it developed, and now you resort to authoritarian measures. You use power and fear to try to make them do your bidding. Maybe you can expect that to be effective for a while. Maybe you’ll feel relieved that they really seem to be listening to you now. However . . . YOUTH: They’re not hearing a single word that comes out of my mouth. PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. The children are not obeying you, they are only submitting to authority. They do not entertain the slightest thought of understanding you. They just cover their ears and shut their eyes and wait for the storm of your rage to pass. YOUTH: Heh-heh, you’ve really hit the nail on the head. PHILOSOPHER: You fall into this vicious cycle because you fail to take the initial step of respecting the students yourself, of respecting them unconditionally. YOUTH: So, because I failed to take that step, there is nothing I can do that will get through to them? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. You have been shouting to an empty room. There’s no way they can hear you. YOUTH: Okay, fine, I get that. There are still so many points I need to refute, but I’ll accept this for the time being. Now, supposing that your approach is the right one—that relationships are built on the basis of respect. How, then, does one show respect, anyway? You’re not telling me to put on a pleasant smile and say, ‘Hey, I respect you,’ are you? PHILOSOPHER: Respect is not something that comes about with words. And whenever an adult tries to cosy up to them in such a way, the children quickly detect the lie or calculation. The moment they think, ‘This person is lying,’ respect isn’t possible anymore. YOUTH: Okay, okay. You’ve hit the nail on the head again. But what are you suggesting I should do, anyway? Because there’s actually a major contradiction in the way you’re talking about respect right now. PHILOSOPHER: Oh? What contradiction is that?
    Wadifa Club
    writer and blogger, founder of Dog food planet .

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