Respecting Your Elders

"Respect your elders and betters!" I hear some cry - well, not any more. I doubt anyone says that these days. It's a sign of the times, you know, those damn dissolute youth taking over our language so now we have no vocabulary any more...

...Anyway, where was I? Oh, apparently saying that you should respect people older than you because they're better than you - or at least, this is what I'm told quite frequently. I'm young, and people like to use that as an excuse to lord it over me and discount my opinions - and, if you'll pardon my not-so-bad language (since quite a lot of grey-haired folks also like to use the tone argument), that's a steaming pile of bullshit.

I view all who are sentient and sapient as my equals. It is perhaps the fairest way - doing otherwise creates a hierarchy which robs some of their rights and is therefore wrong. I consequently have little patience for people who decide that they are superior to me. However, I do my best to respect others - treating them civilly, not giving them any special favours or going out of my way to hurt them, being humane - because I'd quite like to be a decent human being (and, incidentally, give the middle finger to anyone who claims I'm the scum of the earth).

For some people, that's not enough. They demand I obey them unquestioningly and defer to them on every issue. They cast me aside as worthless. They then call that respect. No, that's called arse-kissing and hierarchy. At least try to call things by their proper name. And when those people happen to be of a certain age, they claim that said certain age is a good enough reason for me to kiss their wrinkled arses. Again, a steaming pile of bullshit.

Now, I recognise that not all people older than me are like this. There's a reason that I tend to end up chatting with adults rather than teenagers on the internet. Hell, one of the people I admire and respect most (while still considering him my equal) is old enough to be my father. But for each one of these there are some nine others I can't stand.

You won't get my respect if you're too set in your ways to try and change your mind, or if your brain's too decayed to reason logically. You won't get my respect if you're stupid or prejudiced. You won't get my respect if you shame and gossip. You won't get my respect if you hold yourself up as a pillar of the community while doing all the things that divide it. You won't get my respect if you demand to lord it over me while showing that your greed and incompetence means that you shouldn't be in power at all. You won't get my respect if you abuse your position and hurt the vulnerable. And nothing will make up for that.


  1. As a member of one of those 'elders' I can agree with you. The notion of Respect your Elders goes back a long way to a time when information was dessiminated orally through stories. Then those who had heard the most stories were the ones with the largest amount of knowledge and were in a better position to make decisions cuz' they had the most data of the time. And today, the elders, right or wrong, are people who probably have experienced what younger people have not simply because they have not lived long enough for the experiences to occur. Even now sadly old people are dismissed out of hand and treated so disrespectfully. So, the present communication systems and social media, and through that, more information is gained from the Internet than word of mouth stories which formerly gave those who were the oldest an advantage. But also on the Internet is sold unicorn meat, so even now though having a more up to date information delivery system you have to take it all with a grain of salt. And today there are far more ways to say it than than there are actual things intelligent to say(ever overhear a conversation on a cellphone). The Tea Party by far is made up of a majority of older people. And far more older people vote Republican, or it seems to be that lately. So, as an 'elder' I break ranks with these folks and have more in common with younger people anyway. I suppose when the Gutenberg press which made books possible finally began its rise so that to know something, or know about things, was made available to everyone regardless of age, with the only requirement being the ability to read.
    Showtime's series Bullshit! with Penn and Teller did a show about the myths people have about old people, that they smell bad, drive badly, that they can't have sex, but the show demonstrated the exact opposite of these myths that young folks have about the old folks.
    I'll say a few last things here, one is from Desiderata, and it says:
    "Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth."
    So, it is for young people to understand about the 'elders' and what they have lost in becoming old. That which you have today in abundance: "youth."
    And the last thing is this:
    "The earth is degenerating in these latter days. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer obey their parents, and it is evident that the end of the world is rapidly approaching." -taken from a 5 thousand year old Assyrian tablet.
    So, 'Respect your Elders' if only because wouldn't you want to be respected at their age? But explain to them when they use the line, they must give a good reason why you should, make them work for your respect.

  2. Thanks. A good way to draw together the threads that I'm trying to draw together...Essentially, I have trouble respecting my elders if they don't reason logically, and I don't see why I should respect them just because they're old if they're not also going to be wise.


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