Respect is the Greatest of Charity

Allegory of Charity
Anthony Van Dyck's allegory of Charity as a mother with three infants
Majority of people think of charity as something about alms-giving and donating money to foundations dedicated to provide goods and services to the destitute and underprivileged. Even the word “charity” is coined to be associated with such organizations; the phrase “giving to charities” is understood to be donating money to these foundations.

Charity in the real sense is actually “love” - the love of neighbor. Yes, charity is a manner of how love is expressed, but not the love that is often abused by young men and women which leads to heartbreak, quarrel, and loneliness.

I find it sad that there is only one word for love in the English language. You use this word to describe how a man expresses his affection to a woman (and vice-versa), whether pure or just plain erotic. You also use the word love when you want to ostentate your care and concern for your family and friends. It is funny how we connote the phrase “to make love” as having one meaning – and that is just to have sex. :)

Language differences

With the limitation of English on the word love, at least you can console yourself on the idea that other languages have different words to depict affection, care, and concern for the people whom you LOVE.

In the old Greek language, for example, love is not just one word and these different “loves” differ in their meanings based on how they are expressed and to whom the love is given.

Eros – the love you feel when you desire the person of the opposite sex. It is the love that starts on physical attraction and which, in time, will progress into physical intimacy. This is the passion or romance two people in an exclusive relationship feel for each other. That is why we call sexual love as “erotic love.”

Phileos and/or Storge – the love you give and receive from friendship and family relations. In a way, you can call it pure because it is devoid of physical and sexual desire. So when you say you love your mom, your pop, your bro, your sis, and your pal in school, at work, or in the neighborhood, you are not a stranger to phileos and storge.

Agape – the greatest of the kinds of loves, because this one is not a mere feeling. It is the love that is seen as a decision which leads into action. Sages believe that this kind of love is the one which God has for mankind and His creation. Anyone can experience agape if he/she chooses to do so because it has no limitations. This is the love that the stories and tales of old have taught us to be the most powerful force in the universe.

The Filipinos, too, have more than one different words to define love.

Pagmamahal – the most general of all loves, you can use this definition of love when you express it to people, animals, and things. In fact, this is so general that Filipinos just exercise the utterance of this word to express love all throughout in all occasions.

Pagsinta or Pag-irog – similar to the old Greek, Eros, pagsinta or pag-irog is the love a man feels for a woman (and vice-versa). These 2 words are seldom used, though, unless you watch a black and white Tagalog movie or read a classic poem from the textbooks.

Pag-ibig – the heaviest translation of the word love in the Tagalog language, it evinces both Divine and human love. This word is so deep that you will only read it in literature or hear it in speeches and sermons.

Of course, other languages in cultures and countries around the world may also have multiple translations for the word love. What I want to show here is how I find it unfair and sad that English uses just one word for love when there are a lot of facets involving this emotion. In fact, many wise men will say true love transcends emotion – it is a decision. Just like agape, love should be treated as a verb – an action word.

Going back

An Apostle once said, “And the greatest of these is love...” Oh yes, it is... and most of us believe so too. Yet, I may have to deal with the one-word translation limitation of love in English. Maybe I just have to be content with the use of the word charity, which is really about love of neighbor. The thing is, using charity as a synonym for love may not allow me to bring my intended point.

The main title above says that the greatest of charity is respect, and so it is with love (not that there is such a difference). The most basic yet the most effective practice and experience of love is to RESPECT the person whom such affection is attributed to.

Giving alms is good, sending gifts is sweet, but showing respect as an expression of love is not so easy at is seems. Yet, by practicing it to your neighbor, to your significant other, and to your closest of kin can make you more loving and caring than ever. I guess what made the practice of respect to fellowmen so difficult is the overused concept that...

Substitute Teacher

So should you respect only those you see has earned it?

If that is so, who would be the judge? You? What will be the basis of your judgment? I say that this is a dangerous idea of respect – your standards might be influenced by your bias on whom you like or do not like, what is convenient to you and what is not convenient to you.

You do not praise a colleague for a good work done because you think you are better than him/her.

You put down a subordinate because you are the boss and you think you have the right to do so.

You do not encourage your son or daughter because the college course he/she wants to pursue is not something that you like.

You turn down someone's attention because you think that person is not someone important.

Guess what?

Even gifts without words and gestures of respect are not capable of showing that you love the intended recipients of those gifts.

Hear me out, dear Reader: The most obvious way your respect to people is noticed is through your facial expressions, your gestures, and most importantly the words you speak on them. Yes, your words go a long way. Restrain them if they will only cause demotivation, release them if they carry inspiration.

Generosity is one thing, but the most charitable and loving person has his/her way with words... Words that will stick in your memory for good...

Motivational speaker and self-help book author, the late Dale Carnegie, wrote in one of his books...
"Be hearty in your approbation and be lavish in your praise."
As a final treat, here is a Youtube video entitled...

If We Could See Inside Others' Hearts

Would you be generous with your respect for people if you could see through their hearts?

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  1. When it comes in Religion, it is very hard to respect a false or wrong religions, pastors, beliefs that is not follow the truth gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  2. I love this article and the video was very touching, no more to say.


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