On the one hand we must believe some behaviors are preferable to others or we have the law of the jungle.
We give respect to the man or woman who gives their time or money for the public good.
On the other hand we wish to give equal respect to the person who has no spare money to give. This person may have no money but their value as a human being remains the same.
How do we reconcile this contradiction?
The English (along with the Japanese among others) have developed some brilliant solutions.
All human beings are worthy of respect.
All humans are worthy of respect until they prove otherwise. The gentleman looks at a persons moral conduct and ignores his money or the lack of it. For this reason the street cleaner is the moral equal of the millionaire businessman. Both contribute to society to the best of their ability and are therefore equally good.
All honest work has moral value but not equal financial value.
One of the things that most astonish foreigners who work in the UK is the respect given to street cleaners and the like. What matters is that someone is working and not what they do.
Wealth must not be flaunted.
No gentleman will wear a designer label. This is because he may come across people who cannot afford the brand. Some British clothing brands have become designer labels in other countries but they are usually sold without exterior labels for the UK market.
We cannot gain prestige by what we own- only what we do.
The giver should be grateful.
The greatest gift life can bestow is to to make others happy. The person who has found this pleasure should be grateful- even to those he helps.
Creation is its own reward.
Work and service should be a joy. If it is not then this is due to the management abuse or the materialism of the worker. Either way- not good.
These principles work. They create harmony and bring inner happiness. They also bring a strange type of equality between rich and poor.