Why are we always told to respect elders? Apparently, that is one of the "golden rules" that kids are taught in the younger years. I remember being told this all the time. It was about four years ago, when elementary school ended and middle school began, that teachers weren't required to teach us these rules. I understand some of them, but the one I always questioned the most was the one which states that you have to respect your elders. But why?

Why should we respect people older than us? Are they better because they have lived longer? What makes them so special? I don't understand why someone can automatically have my respect just because they are older. I just don't get it. Giving someone something just because of a certain class they are in, be it religious, age specific, ethnic, gender specific, or anything else, is complete stupidity to me. So we should value certain people more or less because of a certain class they are in? Why? A bum on the street deserves as much respect from me as that woman over there wearing a designer suit and carrying a briefcase. I don't know either of them. I cant give the bum less respect. I don't know what situation he is in right now. I don't know how he got there. Same with the woman. I have no clue. Unless you interact with me, directly or indirectly, I cant give you any more or less respect. I can just respect everyone equally and then change it depending on what they say and do.

I have an example. My mom bosses me around and claims she has authority over me if I oppose her. She is my mom, I know her and she makes sacrifices for me. So i respect her more than the average stranger. But why does she have the right to boss me around? Because she is older? I make sacrifices for her too. I don't just sit here in a vegetable state and let her wipe my bum and feed me. I do contribute to her life in some positive way. So why is she any more important than me? Why cant she respect me enough to listen to what I have to say, rather than just bark out orders and disregard anything I have to say. Dont I deserve enough respect that she could listen to my argument at least? Well maybe some time long ago, people didn't know whose argument was right or wrong, so they just said that the parents were always right, even if they truly weren't. I guess that solves my problem then. I am just a pointless thing out here on earth so that people can just keep me "in line" until I am old enough to do it to the next generation.


We are told to respect elders, but why aren't they told to respect us back. Why is it mandatory for us and optional for them? Shouldn't we have to earn respect, not just dish it out to people who fall under a certain category?

A note for commentors: please dont post saying that we should respect elders because our generation isnt as good as theirs. That concept is a totally separate argument. If you argue that, you are missing my point. I had a few people tell me something like this when I asked them in person. It's not what I'm trying to get across.

Please comment. I want some opinions :)
Dev4444 Dev4444
16-17, F
2 Responses Aug 19, 2014

You might consider that respect for ones elders is not a call for special treatment or blind obedience but rather a request for common decency. One example is offering your seat to an elderly person be you on the bus or in a waiting room. Another is understanding that different people come different cultures. What is socially acceptable today could very well be offensive to the generation of yesteryear. It is not asking a lot to simply be mindful of this when in the presence of our elders.
Elders aren't told to respect the young because it isn't needed. They have already learned the importance of moving through life graciously while interacting with the world around them respectfully. They have life experiences that younger people could benefit from if they were to listen. If one were to truly examine the last 60 years on this planet and what was going on at various times from then until now, one might conclude that simply having lived through certain times periods is pretty noteworthy.
Lastly, remember that no one is asking you to deify your elders the way actors, musicians, athletes and other celebrities are the world over. You are being asked to show respect and really that just means being a decent human being.

As a (considerably) older person, let me first assure you that I for one do not subscribe to the "get out of my way because I'm old" culture.

I do not want any favours but what I do have the right to expect, however, is not to be prejudiced against because of my age any more than my gender, skin pigmentation, sexual orientation, religion or lack of it, size of my bank account or colour of my passport.

Just as I would welcome this respect from you, so would I return it with pleasure. It is what my late parents and hopefully my children would refer to as "good manners".