04 september 2005


Jag skall till Sverige imorgon bitti och vet inte när jag hinner skriva igen. Tänkte att kunde sätta upp det här lilla stycket som jag skrev för ett tag sedan. Vi ses!

"Respect! The word reverberated in my mind just as I stopped myself from taking her life. I was at the time a young teen walking home from school. I was feeling the sun's warmth and hearing the blue-tits familiar tune, signalling the first coming of spring.

I looked down at the first brave flowers that I had intended to pick and bring home, but as I leaned down to pick some up, I stopped myself. It was maybe not the word ‘respect’ that came to mind, but more the feeling of respect. Here was someone with a life of its own — with a sort of birth, growth, and end. I had wanted to pick her, ending her life prematurely, only to have her in a glass of water for a day or two before I threw her away. How could I take someone’s life just for my own brief enjoyment?

I attributed my newfound sensitivity for life to my having become vegetarian. I was trying to live a life with less violence; something that seemed to have had an effect on the way I saw the world around me. This might sound like madness to some but for me it was a very practical lesson — that in the action of respecting life, I in turn became more able to respect life.

‘Respect’ is the big word in Britain right now. The government presented its new policies for this term, enunciated in Queen’s speech as ‘fostering a culture of respect’. The youth, hoods-and-all, just have a cooler way of saying it: 'Yo’, respect'.

The need for respect seems to be universal, but what is it? The Oxford English Dictionary defines respect as: ‘due regard for the feelings or rights of others’. Put in another way, we could translate it into the Golden Rule of treating another as ones self, or ‘not to do unto others what you would not have them do unto you’ (Mahabharata).

To be able to give respect to others we need to look beyond our differences. Beyond different opinions, characters and looks, is a person with life — and life is in its nature sacred. Even if we believe that life has come by chance, or that physical matter (i.e. a terrible amount of atoms) is all that is, we intuitively feel that it is wrong to take another persons life. Life has somehow a sacred character beyond human reasoning.

In the fifteenth century, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught that one of the secrets of spiritual life is to always give respect to others and not expect respect for ourselves. That giving of respect is not just an idea, but is an appreciation of the sacred nature of life. It is an act of love. Life is not only the prerogative of humans. Life belongs to all who are alive and to God, the origin of life. It is therefore natural for a seeker of God to develop an appreciation for all that is alive, whether humans, animals or plants. Within all is a part of God and therefore they all command our respect.

This does not mean we have to agree with everyone or start hugging lions; our response will necessarily have to be adjusted to the person and the situation. However, our starting point will have to be spiritual if we are going to talk about respect effectively. Otherwise we will limit the scope of our respect to some external factor.

We don't have to wait until our beings are vibrating with respect for all before we give respect — we just have to do it. But as ‘charity starts at home’, respect starts with ourselves. The more we respect the sacredness of our own life, the more we are able to respect the sacredness of others."