respect vs distress masquerading as compassion

Respect means to be alert to the reality of what something is. Respect is not worshiping a presumption about how something should be (or should not be) and then, if any contrast is noticed between the presumption and actual observations, exploding in a reflexive distress.

Are presumptions meant to be worshiped as idols? Or, are they just conveniences to give us a point of reference for later making actual observations?

How is it that someone would have so much focus on a presumption that they do reflexively dismiss their own direct observations? The simple answer is distress.


Presumptions about how something should be tend to be recognized as mere presumptions. Presumptions about “how something should not be” tend to be idols that are worshiped in distress.
Idolatry of that sort is basically the same as denial. Here is how people can take innocent, everyday presumptions and make them in to idols to worship.

First, there is an idea of how something should be. That is normal and no big deal.

However, people may then form a contrasting idea of how something should not be. Why would they do that?

Are they resisting a particular observation or interpretation? Why the resistance? If there is no interest in something, that is one thing, but why put energy in to rejecting a possible interpretation?

One possible complaint is that “other people should be more compassionate.” There is first the idea that people are generally compassionate (or we presume that they are and will continue to be). Then there is the idea that “everyone should always be compassionate” or even that “people should not lack compassion.”

Let’s take another extreme: “those toddlers should be more compassionate.” How about this: “all of those mammals on that continent really should be much more compassionate.”


Again, it is one thing to experience a hysterical distress and voice it. It is a very different thing to say to someone as a direction of their attention and behavior that “everyone should be compassionate.”

We can also contrast the terrified desperation of someone who is driven by shame and guilt to constantly prove that they are compassionate (you know, “like they should be”). They may erupt in to rage at any lack of enthusiasm for their glorious extremes of compassion.

If someone dares to directly question whether they have ever done anything that might not have been extremely compassionate, the consequences are predictable. “I am NOT that kind of person!”


Self-respect refers to a primary interest in the reality of how one is, what one does, and the results produced etc…. Idolatry refers to a distressed obsession with conforming to some worshiped ideals, rituals, and (usually) words.

Which words are worshiped as the uniquely holy ones in a particular form of idolatry? Of course, that varies.

Delusional fanatics may have a tendency to jump from one form of idolatry to another. For instance, first they worship the word freedom, then equality, then salvation, then unity, and then justice.

Self-respect includes respect for all patterns of behavior, including what we could call delusional fanaticism. We can have respect for distress and for distressed complaints about how every should have more compassion (or how everyone should be above average).

“Other people should have more compassion FOR ME.” That is an implicit request or even a demand. Maybe it is effective at attracting a “savior.” Maybe it is not.

“Other people should not be so naive.” Why exactly is that? Does the speaker claim an exclusive personal monopoly on naivete?

Sure, people may have a preference that there is no such thing as naivete (or idolatry). However, those are real words that are used as labels for actual observed patterns of human behavior.

“People should not accuse me of idolatry.” That is a reasonable preference.

“People should not accuse me of idolatry even if my actions correspond very well with that pattern of behavior.” Again, that would be an understandable voicing of distress, right?


“Especially if my actions correspond very well to what most anyone would label as naive, distressed idolatry, people should not mention it because that would be entirely rude. People instead should enthusiastically trumpet my extreme wisdom, calmness, and self-respect- yes, even if referencing those qualities is not only presumptive but entirely creative (actively speculating based on no present evidence whatsoever).”

People either should or should not be imaginative or pretend. People either should or should not suggest possible future qualities in their interactions. People either should or should not use reverse psychology the wrong way.





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