Julianne First has a problem with the concept that respect must be earned.

“It is giving the impression that people are creating standards for their respect because not everyone deserves it,” the Brookfield High School junior wrote in a submission to the Brookfield Optimist Club Essay Contest.

Instead, Julianne said, respect should be given freely.

Julianne First

Julianne First

“This creates the idea that everyone is equal throughout society, and that no one is more important than anyone else,” she said.

Julianne lived up to her name in the essay competition – she came in first among three submissions.

The students answered the question, “Can Society Function Without Respect?”

Senior Nicholas Varga placed second and senior Lauren Elizabeth Miller took third. Each winner received a medal and certificate, and Julianne pocketed $100.

“We never have a large amount of participants but we’re happy to have three,” said Optimist Vice President James Hoffman III at the March 22 awards ceremony. “A few years, we had one.”

Nicholas Varga

Nicholas Varga

He acknowledged that many students are involved in several activities and even those interested in an essay contest don’t often have the time to participate in a one-time activity.

“I’m honored you’d take the time in thinking and writing,” he said.

Hoffman thanked Brookfield High School language arts teacher Jennifer Laury for championing the contest to her students

Lauren Elizabeth Miller

Lauren Elizabeth Miller

“We’re happy we have a teacher in the school willing to work with us,” Hoffman said.

Former teachers graded the essays, and Julianne’s was sent to a regional competition.



Can society function without respect?


When asked if society can function without respect, the obvious answer is that it can not. Respect comes in all different forms and actions, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Little actions such as holding the door open for someone, wishing someone a good morning, or even just acknowledging someone with a nod and a smile can make all the difference. By these small actions, it makes us as human beings feel as we are equal, and  that everyone is just as important as one another. Without respect, this would not be possible. Even though the answer seems obvious, this question can never fully be answered due to the different perceptions of what respect is and how it is obtained.

The most familiar perception of respect is that it must be earned. This is the common concept that respect is exchanged only after realizing the person you are interacting with is worthy of your respect. This is not only a judgmental concept, but it is saying that one person’s respect is more important than another’s. It is giving the impression that people are creating standards for their respect because not everyone deserves it. It is allowing someone to look down on another person judging them just by what they believe is right. This is creating an imbalance in society in the sense that everyone is not equal and to earn respect, there would have to be certain types of people that are worthy of it. This specific concept is saying that if someone needs to earn your respect, you are respecting that person’s achievements rather than themselves as a person. Many people disagree with this due to the confusion on how someone can earn someone’s respect quickly after just meeting them. Would they still get a handshake or a “nice to meet you” even if they didn’t live up to those specific standards? What would they have to do to be worthy of someone’s respect?

Another example of how people perceive respect is that respect should be given to everyone and it is not necessary for it to be earned. This concept explains that no matter your race, religion, occupation, or age, you deserve the respect of those around you without judgement. This creates the idea that everyone is equal throughout society, and that no one is more important than anyone else. The amount of respect is not based on the accomplishments one has made, yet their personality and how they treat others. It is saying that whether you are a millionaire or a minimum wage worker you should treat people with an equal amount of respect. With the amount of respect being equal, it makes people feel safe and worthy. It makes people feel safe because there is less judgement, and it now makes those people feel welcome to express their opinions without backlash. It also makes people feel worthy because they do not have to change anything about themselves to get the approval and of others. This relates back to the “Golden Rule” which states that you should treat people the way you want to be treated no matter what. It is a comforting sense to be equal and accepted in society.

Another perception of respect is of people with authority. This concept differs from the two previous ones because it is that people with positions of authority expect the respect of others. Many people of high positions of power feel that they deserve respect without earning it or even giving it in return. Most of these cases include political leaders or successful Hollywood actors who believe that since they are higher up in society, respect should be given to them with no questions asked. In some instances the respect that is given to these people is taken for granted, or is used in negative ways. This concept is damaging to society because these successful people already have a strong platform, and their abuse of the respect and power they have can make others feel less than them, and unimportant.

Back to the starting question, to some the answer still may seem obvious. Yet, this question can not be fully answered yet. The question of whether or not society can function without respect can be fully and clearly answered when society as a whole is on the same page as to why respect is relevant and how it is obtained. There may never be an answer to this question, but respect will always be present one way or another, and in some form throughout the nation.

Can society function without respect?


Respect plays a role in our everyday lives. Respect is viewed as something earned or given to someone in the leadership position. Without having respect we would not have the trust in our leaders in our families, careers, communities, and even political leaders. The Bible Gateway believes the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” stated as (Luke 6:31) in the bible. This phrase is now used less and less. Most adults would agree that our generation has lost majority of our morals including respect, with that being said I couldn’t agree more. Without respect, our society can not function.

Most teenagers rebel in order to voice their opinion and think they are earning respect. Unfortunately, these acts mold our society in a bad way by teaching younger generations lack of respect. One major dilemma would be younger generations demonstrating the lack of respect towards the elderly and authoritative figures. As evidenced by students in classrooms disobeying teachers and other important figures at the school. They disobey teachers and other important authoritative figures such as the principal, counselor, etc. by not completing reasonable tasks and finishing their work. An example of how students disrespect teachers and other authoritative figures is how they scream and tell the teachers ,“No I refuse to this assignment!” or the students curse at the teachers.

Not only does it affect classrooms but is also witnessed in the work field as well.  If you’re respectful during a job interview they would view you as being appropriate and nice as long as the job requirements are fulfilled. In the office setting at your job, you come across someone who has dropped papers on the floor or a coping machine is jammed and helping them pick up papers or fixing the jam. By using  the golden rule of “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”(Bible Gateway) by stopping and helping someone fix it out of respect because you would want someone to stop and help you.

Another subject that is widely forgotten about is having the respect for other cultures locally or when traveling and keeping traditions alive. When you show respect for other cultures and traditions it shows other how diverse of a human you are. It allows for others to feel the respect you share for their cultural differences. Different cultures have their own intake on respect as well, such as: their language, religion, and how they present themselves as a person with their cultural views. Traditions in their cultures are also something that should be respected. It is a sacred bondage to who they are as a person and what they believe in. An example of a cultural tradition is Christmas, and how it is a widely spread belief to celebrate Christmas as a holiday and several families keep traditions going. One way traditions are kept alive could be as simple as wrapping gifts on certain days, decorating trees, foods brought to the dinner tables, and going to church for midnight mass.

If our society had respect, we most likely would not have the problems we have today. Respect is unfortunately considered a luxury to have instead of common courtesy. If we showed more respect for people who are different than us we would be one step closer to world peace. In today’s society if we see a homeless person on the side of the street most people keep walking past them without making eye contact. They are still human and rarely see respect as an individual for themself. Having the courtesy to stop and give a simple acknowledgment to someone could make a great difference in someone’s day.

Lastly, having respect for oneself and morals. By doing so is uplifting and promotes drive in oneself by giving and receiving respect. Having self respect shows a lot about a person and being able to be happy first in order to make others happy. Also morals play an enormous role in having a functioning society. Morals are the basic standards of what is right and wrong and how to treat others. Without having morals comes with lack of respect as stated before for yourself, the community, authority, and political leaders. So a society that has no respect could not prosper and function appropriately.