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A question concerning respect

Heya everyone. Thought I’d ask about something that’s been on my mind the past few days and it involves the notion of respecting others beliefs. In our society, we are individuals with various beliefs and non beliefs, be it religious, rational, scientific, extremist etc and are encouraged to “respect other people’s beliefs.” Where would you say our sense of respect is truly directed to: the individual themselves, their personal beliefs or the right to express personal beliefs / freedom of speech? As a humanist and atheist, I’ve sometimes had conversations with people in university or with friends in the pub and have had the occasion of being accused of being arrogant or close minded or disrespectful towards a person who holds beliefs in gods or the supernatural or even towards the belief itself. I personally respect either the person on how they conduct themselves towards others i.e. not hurting or discriminating against others, not on the beliefs. I also respect their freedom of opinion as this is an essential part of our development as individuals and as a society but not the opinion itself (I don’t mean that I’ll disrespect or bully the individual, call the stupid etc but simply have no respect for the belief). Give you an example: the topic of sexuality. I fully support equal rights towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people etc and do not believe that someone loving another of the same gender is a sin or wrong. In far opposition of that belief would be those expressing violent homophobia to the extent of prejudicial homicide, thus as a result I would not respect the individual or the belief. However, lets say I’m speaking to a person who may be very kind and non violent towards others but does not tolerate marriage other than one woman and one man. Then I would respect the individual and their freedom of opinion but not the opinion itself. A second example: There is a variation of non belief in God called antitheism, where an individual has opposition towards organized religion or the existence of deities (i.e. does not wish for there to be a God in existence) and people can hold this view in a peaceful, non violent manner. Yet it is a non belief which has been criticized as disrespectful towards belief, even if the antitheist themselves fully endorses a democratic freedom of speech and opinion for others. I suppose what I’m also asking is this: is it intolerant and contradictory to respect a human and their freedom of opinion but not their opinion itself if it goes against equality and tolerance of activity which does not harm others? Apologies for the long post, tried to keep it as short as possible

Hello Harley Duck,
I don’t think there is definitive answer to your question…although I think it is one we wrestle with inwardly… But more and more I am seeing the wisdom of: it only matters what ‘you’ think and the conclusions you yourself come to.
We have been programmed to ‘listen to others’ to the point where we can be afraid to trust our own judgment because we require ‘the answer’ from the ‘outside’ of ourselves.
This (to me) is because we feel the need to align with what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’… and this is all a matter of relativity.
In this age of ‘political correctness’ it’s become more difficult for us to express our true feelings to even OURSELVES… Political correctness is another one of those controversial topics! :) Again, in my opinion, P.C. is often used as justification for accusing others of not aligning with their own personal beliefs… So just go with what feels right for YOU…as long as your intentions are to do no purposeful harm… you are on your own ‘right track’…
I am metaphysical in my beliefs…so I believe one only draws those situations to themselves that reflect those beliefs, via the immutable Law of Attraction. So, for myself, this gives me plenty to work on! :)
I have the potential of getting miserably upset with religious radicals, so I just try, in my thoughts, not to ‘go there’ so I don’t attract situations for me to deal with. That works for me. Do I goof up? Heck yeah… So what? It’s all ok.

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