GOOD Manners and Right Conduct was one of the subjects I ignored back in grade school even if I knew it was important. Nevertheless, the values it has taught me seem to me like a broken record, monotonously playing in the background as years go by.

Somehow, you would think that six years of the same things repeated and reiterated to you at least half an hour every week would stick with you for the rest of your life.

I think it did rub off on me, or at least a few of those ideals lingered in my head long enough for me to think and know that others, myself included, may have forgotten that the simplest of values make the most complex of things work.

We call ourselves sophisticated, educated, and civilized; but when relationships fall apart and predicaments threaten to wreck good rapport, we lose sight of important values that used to keep us together. Those that were taken for granted just because we did not need to ask for them before, because they were served on a silver platter.

Confucius asked, “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?” It was this that made me think respect is the foundation of our humanity.

Respect for others should not come with a price, it is earned, yes, but once relationships (of any kind) crumble to pieces, it should stay simply because everyone deserves to be respected.

In his essay Pagpapakatao, UST Graduate School Professor Florentino Hornedo said that there is a reason for a person to exact respect from others. It is bestowed, yes; but this is because there is a need to freely give respect due to others. But it does not mean that it is a gift that can be denied to others (and given to some) when one wants to.

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In a work place especially, when people should work together, one must recognize the need for ‘civility.’ It is like a kind of “superglue” that would hold people together long enough for their work to succeed.

When colleagues respect each other, at least professionally, then work gets done efficiently. The high or poor performance of a company or an organization depends on the work ethic of each person in the work place.

The way I see it, showing consideration for others is a rare occurrence these days. People ruin each other through gossiping and backstabbing, through miscommunication and misconceptions. All these trigger the very foundation of moral ethics.

Having the courage to talk to people we have troubles with, and resisting the urge to disclose the problem to others, is a sign of respect. It greatly diminishes gossip and misconceptions and it also demonstrates willingness to have the problem solved.

If only we would learn to respect each other wholeheartedly, then we could be assured that better relationships await us; that when we turn our backs, friends don’t suddenly become secret enemies and enemies don’t become beasts.

Yes, respect is a big word full of recognition, acceptance, and knowledge. It is a basic moral value we all learned from when we were not even old enough to memorize the multiplication table or the (then) nine planets of the solar system, yet. It is a sign of maturity, inculcated by our parents and teachers from so long ago, that shows people can still work well together amid “trying times.”

All we really need to know, we have learned from when we were young. Knowledge in English, math, and science may be what we need to obtain a degree and to get a job someday. But what will make us stay on track and what will always remain in the memories of those who we cross paths with, will not be that we know the Pythagorean Theorem nor Newton’s Laws of Motion nor Shakespeare’s most notable works, but how we treated them and how we interacted with them during the good and the bad times.

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And to reiterate what my professor in Philosophy once said, “I want respect, so I give respect.”

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