In the book I am presently working on named Love Your Life – A way to approach health and happiness, there is a section on The wisdom of the 7 Sages of Greece. That wisdom consists of 147 brief suggestions published on a stone before about 500 BC at Delphi in Greece. Those precepts are so brief they require some interpretation and expansion to make them useful to a modern English speaker.
I have used the term “respect” in several of the suggestions, which I have been calling tips to make them less demanding and more friendly. Tip #34 is presently stated, “Respect other people’s space and property,” and that usage of the word respect feels appropriate. However, the next one, Tip #35 was written “Respect other people’s thoughts.” That doesn’t feel quite right anymore because it has the connotation of tolerating other people’s thoughts. Tolerating implies there is something wrong with their thoughts, and with their thinking, and with their personal experience. However, if we had lived their lives and had their experiences, we would probably be in much closer alignment with those thoughts and their presentations of them. In that case, we would have greater respect for those thoughts and statements. Our respect might well move over into the more approving connotation implied by the word “value.”
If we value other people’s statements and the thoughts behind those statements and thus the experiences and analysis of those experiences, then that other person’s whole world opens up to us. We have a more intimate relationship with them and their worldview and thus our personal relationship with our own world becomes more expanded. If we value other people instead of tolerating them our lives become better.
However, if we go away from valuing their worldview, away from even tolerating them, we move into intolerance and perhaps into dislike and even hatred, loathing and animadversion. It’s all bad, both for our feelings about life and for our relationship to them.
But, if we are able to see the world as others see it, then we can have a much friendlier and more meaningful relationship with them. If we see as they see we can find common ground on many and probably most mutually overlapping situations. We can probably find situations where we can have a mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services. The very places where our lives are most different are the very places where mutual exchanges can be most beneficial to each of us. We can trade those things which each of us has an overabundance of for those things which each has a paucity of. We can find our greatest friend in those who are most different from us. This mode of relating works for ideas as well as the trading of physical goods.
We will greatly benefit by learning how to value other people’s experiences and thoughts.