has nothing to do with the approval of others
who are, after all, deceived easily enough.
It has nothing to do with reputation,
which is something people with courage can do without.
the willingness to accept responsibility for my own life,
is the source from which my self-respect springs.
Self-respect is an approach,
an attitude in life that can never be faked
but it can be developed, trained, coaxed forth,
but also suppressed.
To have a sense of my intrinsic worth
which constitutes self-respect
is potentially to have everything:
the ability to discriminate,
and to remain indifferent.
To lack it
is to be locked within myself,
paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference.
Why do we flatter ourselves
by thinking that a compulsion to please others
is an attractive trait,
a gist for imaginative empathy,
evidence of our willingness to give?
At the mercy of religious leaders
who we cannot but hold in contempt,
we play roles doomed to failure
before they are begun,
each defeat (sin) generating fresh despair
at the urgency of divining and meting their next requirement
to save our souls.
Religion is a phenomenon that results in
alienation from true self.
In its advanced stages,
Religion demands too much,
tears the nerves,
drains the will,
imprisons one in a sense of
unworthiness and guilt.
To free us from the expectations of others,
to give us back to ourselves,
there lies the great,
the singular power of self-respect.
one runs away to find oneself,
and finds no one at home.