A Certain Reserve

There is a certain reserve in self-respect, a reverence for the fine dignity of the individual self, which keeps man from taking the whole world into his confidence. His real, deeper self he keeps for those who are nearest and dearest. There are men and women who, at the first meeting, as mere casual acquaintances, take you through the windings of their most intimate thoughts, feelings, and experiences. You have a sense of shock at their sudden housecleaning and fumigation of the emotions, as though you were looking at someone in a bathrobe walking down the street. Like the holy place behind the veil in the tabernacle, where even the high priest could enter but once a year, there are some memories, episodes, and experiences in the individual life that are sacred. Self-respect realizes that this sanctuary is no place for a crowd of tourists.” William George Jordan

One of the casualties of the internet is the sense of reserve that comes with having to own up to those things you say and write. I’m sure you’ve read a string of comments after a Youtube post or watched how nasty people become when commenting on other forums under a pseudonym. Reserve is disregarded by cowards cloaked in anonymity.

Granted there is a broad spectrum of people, some who prefer to be extremely private and others who are more open and gregarious, but I have to agree with Mr. Jordan’s assertion that there are levels of sacredness for a good reason. One of the challenges we’ve faced throughout history is that of functioning in a way that the levels can safely appear. Sacredness cannot be destroyed, but it is withdrawn when in the presence of coarseness of any kind.

You cannot generate sacredness beyond yourself if you lack self-respect. You must love and be honest with yourself before you can truly love and be honest with anyone else. Self-respect is the starting point, not the final destination. It is the means by which dignity is made manifest on earth.

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6 Responses to A Certain Reserve

  1. S.B. says:

    Thanks Gregg for this post. Beyond the common decency that should be employed on the Internet, it gets to the heart of purpose behind any of our actions. Have a great day!

  2. Scarlett says:

    I’ve really enjoyed your recent posts on self-respect and this is just another amazing one that will keep me thinking for a long time!

  3. Vincent says:

    This post points to an area of understanding that has all but been lost in our present-day world. Levels of sacredness, maintained by appropriate reserve, allow for the buildup and release of power on a controlled basis. This is true within individuals as well as between them.

    What is one’s own awareness of sacred things, and at what point, if any, will one violate what is recognized to be sacred? From the answers to these questions, everything of significance proceeds.

  4. Colin says:

    It seems to me that one of the reasons people give up their quiet reserve is that they get frightened by the strength and power that appear when you deny the tumult of the world access to every part of you. When you let an unthinking stream of yourself spew forth constantly, you have no pressure, just like a gravity fed hose will trickle with no reserve of water behind it. When you keep the proper reserve of self-respect, you have something to draw on when the time comes.

  5. Doug says:

    The Internet has replaced the “over the fence neighbor talk”(that was often regrettable)with an exposure ,that it seems, most don’t realize the future ramifications of. Things said anonymously will be exposed as the value of who said what becomes a commodity for litigation, consumer trends and other information tied to a monetary gain.
    Self respect is the very basis for personal transformation. Great post!

  6. CCF says:

    Sacredness has been in the eyes of the beholder, tied inextricably to the purity of the heart. Study any culture and you’ll see oddities that at some point may have been an effort to maintain a sacredness. It is something that can’t be institutionalized or legislated. It begins with self respect and moves naturally to respecting others. Interesting post-thanks.

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