It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.
A person’s ideals are part of their identity; they arguably define the person even more than their appearances do. As a result, people who are steadfast on their beliefs naturally command more respect than those who keep changing theirs every now and then.
A person’s self-respect defines their character. Someone who is known to buckle under pressure does not generally merit the same regard as someone who knows how to hold their ground. Of course, this is not the same as being stubborn and clinging on to a belief, however irrational, just for the sake of it. It is totally okay for a person to change their opinion on a matter once they come across a better one. That said, when this change is necessitated more by compulsion and/or greed than a real change of mind, then that’s where people begin to assign lesser importance to you and your ideas.
Great historical figures are testimony to the fact that they did not compromise on their conviction, even if this meant laying down their lives. Even in the face of certain defeat, their belief was unwavering. They stood up for their ideas, instead of letting others tell them what to believe in.
While the times have changed and things are not always about life and death, it is no less important to be firm in your beliefs. You may, for example, find easy, unethical ways of climbing up the rungs of the corporate hierarchy faster, but this will forever ruin not just others’ opinion of you, but your own as well. People may respect you by dint of your position, but hardly anyone will truly look up to you. On the other hand, someone who is self-made inspires and commands respect from everyone they come in touch with.
Emiliano Zapata Salazar, popularly known as just Emiliano Zapata, was a Mexican revolutionary. Celebrated across the world for his role in liberating Mexico from Spanish rule, Zapata once said: “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”