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Re: courtesy and respect - random thoughts

Poster: Aelfgar GreySeas <aelfgar@access.digex.net>

To one and all, Aelfgar GreySeas sends greetings.

The lady Melys, may her brightness enrich us all, has posed two questions of
some import. I paraphrase

1. Does possession of rank or title entitle one to a higher level of courtesy?
2. What, if anything, is the difference between courtesy and respect?

For me, the answer to the first question is contained in the answer to the
first, so that is where I shall begin. Are we all seated comfortably?

Courtesy is the word which describes how I hope to treat everyone I deal with
because I owe it to myself to do so. It is not a matter of who deserves it, or
whether one can deserve more or less courtesy than another. I owe it to myself
to treat one and all as I wish to be treated myself.

Respect, on the other hand, is that sense we gather over time that another 
person has some quality we find admirable, that is consistent over time. As our
experience with an individual grows, our respect for them changes - it grows or
shrinks depending upon the quality of our experience of them.

Thus, the courtesy I show to others (when I get my end of things right) is
fairly constant - I should treat all equally well. My respect for others is a
private matter, and varies.

The discussion, of course, becomes confused when we use the phrase 'treat one
with respect' to mean the same thing as 'treat one courteously', or forget
that these words are commonly used almost interchangeably.

>From this, we see that position or title should have no effect on whether or
not someone is dealt with courteously - all should be. However, I see it as an
act of courtesy to all of us to treat the holders of certain offices (the
crowns, for example) with a certain ritual deference when we are all in
persona. This is out of respect for our shared perceptions of what we are try-
ing to recreate, and for the individual's willingness to take on positions 
that involve considerable work and pressure, but (hopefully) benefit all of us.

As for discussion and debate, logic and reason are our only reliable paths to
truth, and neither of these have any trouble coexisting with courtesy and 
gentle behaviour. Never agree with someone because of who they are, and never
yell at someone for what they believe, and we should all be all right.

Well, that came out more pompously than I'd hoped, but that's our Aelfgar.

Thanks for your patience, good company.

Your servant



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