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Location: Hexham, Newcastle, England

Total posts: 233
Posted:Written by:
Respect, by Eddie Stratton.

Don't ever worry that you have to earn respect - you are alive, you are a person, which means our respect for you is a given. Here is our perspective on 'earning respect': if you feel that respect must be earned then you have put the person you are 'earning' it from above you - which is actually impossible because we are all equal! That's anarchistic. That's equality.

You had our respect before we even knew you existed, just because you are alive. The guy who says 'you must earn my respect' is an arrogant man indeed - who the hell is he to judge you? Why should you work to impress his arbitrary morality? Ask yourself what you're doing accounting to him - he's on the same level!

Now, I used to think that you naturally had my respect until you lost it. Now I don't even think that! You have my respect, period. I don't care if you are Peter Sutcliffe, or John Wayne Gacy, you have my respect because you are a human being and you are alive.

Does that sound mad? Well let me explain. What you are and what you do are seperate issues. If you are a Nazi, and you like ice cream, Stevie Wonder songs and Star Wars, then I could quite happily spend a couple of hours in your company talking about George Lucas' inimitable genius, Motown classics, and the wonders of raspberry ripple. I might not find out that you are a member of Combat 18, and I would go away feeling that I had made a friend. Another day may come and I meet you again, wearing a Combat 18 T-Shirt - what do I do? Negate the conversation we had? Deny it ever happened? That day, I thought you were a good guy - and guess what? You were. Therefore, you still are; it's just some of your opinions and activities which I disagree with - so I want to change them. Today you are spreading a different message from the first time we met. So what do I do? Well, the first thing I do is find out about Combat 18, and why you support it. I find out what you know about fascism, and then I try to reason you out of the mindset.

Why do I do this? Because I respect you as yourself, I don't see you as a 'nazi', or some other 'label', I see you as a person, with some opinions which are fine and sociable, some opinions which are still fine that I don't share, and some opinions which are objectionable or antisocial which I feel that I could change for everyone's benefit. So I try to do that out of respect for you, for me and for society.

The worst thing I could do would be to hit you for being a nazi. Then we have two problems instead of one - you being a nazi, and me using unnecessary violence instead of reason. If the problem is that one of your views is a racist view, then that is what I will home in on - and try to change that view. That is because I respect you. I don't have to respect all your views, or all of your behaviour, and those views or behavioural aspects I don't respect it is my right to try to reason with you about, and your right to accept or reject my reasoning. No loss of respect is involved!

If I label you a shithead because of one aspect of your personality or actions, then I generalise myself out of a potentially fruitful friendship. I am not going to judge you according to your flaws - that is unfair. If I judge you at all, it will be inclusive of your good points as well as your bad ones!!

Something the great death row defense lawyer Clive Stafford Smith once said really hit home - he said "If we judge everyone by their worst day, none of us look very good."

I swear, even if I were in the same room as Hitler, I would try to talk with him, try to understand where he is at, try to find what he thinks, and I would do it with a view to changing his mind - he COULD have been an asset to us with his intelligence, his energy and his dynamism, but his bigotry got in the way - if only someone had respected him enough to change that.

So you never gain or lose our respect, you have it from the start, and it stays there to the end, whatever you do, whatever your opinions are, you remain worthy of respect just because you are alive.

That's anarchism in action! It just seems to be a saner way to think...



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