The cost-benefit rule of thumb: anything may be possible, but nothing comes free. New cars, money, power, prestige, titles; the American dream to have; all of this has its cost, and the cost is not only monetary. These things come at a cost of our priorities, our perspectives of life, and the meaning that we give to our world. “Sometimes, we get lost, and try to live at any cost, but get nothing back for what we paid.” goes an old song lyric. What it expresses is that sometimes we search for meaning, for reason, for respect, love, and admiration in external things, in how others perceive us. These things: the new cars, money, or the aesthetic lifestyle, the spiritual, intellectual quest etc… are suppose to somehow guarantee us others respect and admiration. We work hard at acquiring these things, and are so surprised when others simply respond haphazardly or indifferently. To respect is one thing; to expect is another.
On the other hand, so often we are asked to respect someone, or something, but we cannot seem to see a reason for it. We are simply required to give our respect to everything, to everyone because they exist, or they have achieved something, or perhaps nothing at all; they are merely present; they are there in front of us. We are expected to respect because we have a relationship to or with it, or them. It seems to the world that each of us has a born right to be respected regardless of what, why, or how we are. Many times money seems to be a ground for admiration and respect. If you have it, you are to be respected and revered. Position seems to require that everyone under the certain title is a minion to its every whim, wish, need, and want without question. The powerful are to be respected for their power, and the needy are to be respected for their need. We see people with money, power, position, and fame and we see the attention, and the “respect” they achieve for the things that they have, or have accomplished, and we want that for ourselves: all that they have, and the respect as well. We want the things to give us the respect that we believe we deserve. Many times the act of being poor, a victim of circumstance, or society; self-inflicted lifestyles, belief systems, or lack of, demands respect from us without question, or comment. We are victims of evils beyond our control, or of society; we belong to an accepted group with a long lineage of altruistic ideals. To make matters worse, all of this, and more, is bought and sold; taught as well, to be the ultimate goal in life. But to be respected, one must deserve respect.
Everything has a cost, but the cost is not always what we think it is. To be respected is to have respect for yourself not for what you have, who you think that you are, or whom you know. To be admired is to admire yourself for who you are not for what you have achieved, where you have been, how much you have. Many times the material things that we surround ourselves with are only a façade that attracts people, like honey attracts flies. They may not care for you, but they see you for what they perceive themselves to want: the things that you have acquired. To decide upon a lifestyle for yourself is to take the responsibilities of that lifestyle for your own, but be sure to understand what those are, and what they mean. The truth is very often something extremely different than what we perceive it to be at first glance. So be sure to know what is being paid for before you lay your payment down, and be assured that there will be a payment, due upon receipt.