Mutual Respect

In the aftermath of the atrocities in Australia in October their Prime Minister put Mutual Respect at the centre of his attempt to unite the nation. So not a unique Fundamental British Value, but certainly an important one. So, aside from a dated pop anthem, what is respect all about. The word has three meanings – it can mean admire, it can mean having regard to feelings and it can mean give deference to.

It is the central one that makes the difference. If we know how others are feeling, have empathy, then we will be able to react to them in such a way that makes for strong society. If, instead, we have a sense they are apart, we do not understand and that, somehow, we are ‘us’ and they are ‘them’ this will fragment society, damaging us all.

Respect may be a dated pop anthem but when it was used as a focus forĀ  civil rights and the rights of women it had exactly the right message. When we can think how it might be for others, we will act in the right way.

This, too, is a modern moral value from ancient religious stock. ‘Do to others and you would have them do to you’ is repeated in the writings of all three world monotheistic religions.