I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Committed, and amidst many fascinating facts about marriage, she touches upon the word respect – claiming that the word, which comes “from the Latin respicere (‘to gaze at’), suggests that you can actually see the person who is standing next to you” (102).
I love this way of looking at respect. I find that understanding the origin of this word gives me a whole new appreciation for the value and experience of affording someone or something respect.
I see this sort of respect in how the Na’vi greet each other in the movie Avatar – with the words, “I see you.” And, of course, as a yogi, I see it in the word namaste, which can be translated as “the light in me sees the light in you.”
I’ve also heard namaste translated as peace, which makes sense to me as well, because I see the kind of recognition and acknowledgement present in the act of saying namaste (or “I see you”) as the foundation of peaceful action, or ahimsa (non-harming). When we respect, when we truly see, what is around us – from our community to our environment, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to engage in harmful action.
When I see you,
And you see me,
A peaceful world,
Will come to be.