TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Riches vis-a-vis respect.

I do not envy people who are rich. They must be terribly distressed by the idea of ever losing their riches. Second, they never know who their friends are, since "a friend in NEED is a friend indeed".
However I do envy people who are widely respected. It sort of humiliates me that I am insignificant. Hence I draw the conclusion that - in our heart of hearts - we are not craving for money, but we are all craving for respect, clout, sense of importance. The desire for respect stems directly from our basic instinct. Respectable status enjoyed by ourselves gives our genes a better chance to be passed on to offspring, and our offspring better chance to survive while under our parental custody. Those who try to accumulate a lot of wealth only do so, because they think they will be able to BUY other people's respect. They are bound to find out to their frustration that RESPECT CANNOT BE BOUGHT. Conversly you do not need riches to earn other people's respect. The obvious lesson from this analysis is that we should all concentrate our efforts, thoughts, attention on getting the real thing - the respect. The very first step in the process is to begin to respect yourself. Do not proceed to step 2, before step 1 is really and truly accomplished :-)
A word of caution. Respect is a dangerous possession. The more widely respected you are, the more limelight you are in. Make one false step and your ruin will be in proportion to the amount of respect you have enjoyed, and you stand to end up worse off that you would if you were a nobody. So if you are unsure of your own morality or integrity if you like, think twice before you embark on a journey in quest of too much respect from other people. In other words maintain the respect from other people at levels commensurate to the respect you have for yourself.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 17 2013: I've lived long enough to know that I do not seek out other's respect. I also do not seek riches. The only thing I care about in this line of thinking is if I respect myself. That and making sure I stay on my path and don't let others try and push me off it.

    If you behave in a way that respects yourself, the rest is irrelevant.
    • thumb
      Jan 18 2013: I share your sentiments. This statement is also applicable to those who do seek respect from others; I find it nearly impossible to respect an individual who lacks respect for himself or herself, and I know many others feel the same way.
    • Jan 18 2013: Linda, you may not seek respect actively, but it still is what you need more than anything. _Provided that someone were to violate the respect that you currently enjoy or that is for one reason or another due to you, I bet you would not put up with the situation. You do not seek riches? That may be, but were your talents or abilities suddenly discovered by some people who wanted to handsomely remunarate you for doing something you really enjoyed, would you resist the temptation of gradually accumulating some wealth in the process of doing it? Money does not secure respect of other people, but surely it does not stand in the way or even preclude it?

      I have to admit that I have had my hands full trying to respect myself, let alone trying to win the respect of others - particularly when in company of very assertive, successful people or at school reunions (as is so wonderfully depicted in Alain de Botton's videos).

      I wish you luck in not letting others push you off your path :-)
      • thumb
        Jan 18 2013: I disagree. I do not see external validation either from people or from money. I know you probably don't think so but I really don't. I couldn't care less. They can go jump as far as I am concerned.

        I do what I love to do and enjoy it. I make enough to meet my family needs and that's all I care about.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.