I've been thinking about "Respect". If I understand that I am as unique as every other individual on the planet, then surely I have to respect each person for their uniqueness?

On the other hand, apparently we have to constantly be in competition with each other. So the "I'm better/worse than you" is always applied to everything. How is that going to work with respect for all, better or worse - whatever these measures mean?

As Confucius stated, Respect starts with oneself. If I don't respect me, then how can I be expected to respect others? And there's the difficulty: how can I learn to respect myself, when I'm constantly being compared - at work, at home, in school, in my social life, to see if I'm better or worse than someone or something else.

From as early as I can remember - and it seems to me to have been the same for those around me - I was told to do better, to be better, to be diligent, to be careful, to be ........ Being me was not enough, I had to be somebody else. That might even have worked if it had been consistently a comparison between  me and a specific person, but it wasn't. I was compared to someone or something else as deemed appropriate depending on what I was doing at the time. Very confusing: I should be better than someone at homework and better than someone else at sports.

Our whole educational system is based on this. I recall that I didn't just get a specific mark for my homework, but I also has a position in class rankings. So competition was always the underlying fact at school. Later, in jobs, it was no different. You might be the best at some task, but if your boss prefers somebody else, then being best was irrelevant. Nobody I've ever met could get me to understand that this inconsistent  approach works to make us better human beings.

In particular, how can we work together to solve the huge problems currently facing the world, if we don't respect each other and are constantly competing against each other?

It really is an illusion to expect these two items as currently practiced to hep us in any way. Respect and competition - we need to sort out which is important, before we all kill ourselves.