Fear and Respect

Fear and Respect

Can you respect somebody you fear?

Fear engenders obedience because of the implied threat of punishment. It leads to passivity and acquiescence to the other’s wishes (demands?). This can be misinterpreted as respect but there is an important difference: to respect somebody you must hold them in high regard – you must value and admire them. And my regard for somebody I fear is less than nothing – I hold them in contempt. I obey them because I am mindful of the consequences of disobedience – I rarely have the courage to stand up and confront people. It is emphatically not because I have any respect for them.

There are many names for the kind of people who delude themselves that they are respected because they hold positions of power over others, and abuse that power to bend those others to their will. Names such as tyrant, despot, dictator…


It is a matter of volition. I will follow somebody I respect out of choice; I will submit to somebody I fear under duress. When I am a willing participant I am more productive – I want to give of my best and will strive to do so; when I’m forced to do something I will grudgingly conform to the letter of any demand but there is no inclination to perform well. It’s not quite passive resistance, rather procrastination.

2 thoughts on “Fear and Respect

  1. Oh, I agree with this post very much. I too have a great deal of difficulty standing up for myself… most people I have come to know with AS do. I'm still trying to figure out why that is. I become paralyzed almost in the form of speech leaves me, my mind whirls around trying to process what is happening but gets confused and fear, well, fear is such an all encompassing physical response that I believe it causes a shock and shut down to a lot of my high functioning. I very much like what you wrote here today. There is definitely a very measurably degree of difference between fear and respect.


  2. Standing up for myself is mentally extremely difficult – I am exposed to the full force of social phobia by putting myself at the focus of attention. On top of that is the stress of confrontation and the need to overcome my verbal communication problems – which are made worse by stress…I believe that fear leads to hatred, which leads to conflict. Respect is built on honour and admiration; on recognising the value of others. It is the bedrock of stability in society, and I need stability in my life in order to function.


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