Being older doesn’t mean you’re automatically right

Morgan Dowler | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

“Respect your elders” is a centuries-old phrase that many people are taught to follow from a very young age. It’s true that you should respect the people who are older than you, as you would respect someone the same age as you or even younger than you. It’s just a part of human decency.

However, there seems to be the belief that we should be respectful to older people, even when they are disrespectful to us. This is not the case. You should not allow anyone to diminish you simply because they’ve been on the Earth longer — this goes for bosses, family members, coworkers, friends, etc. You wouldn’t allow someone to be rude to you if they were the same age as you, so why should it be OK if they are older than you? Wisdom and entitlement don’t mean you can get a free pass to be rude.

There is a difference between being polite and being disrespectful, though. Politely disagreeing with someone is not the same as being disrespectful. You are allowed to stand up for yourself in these situations, and you can do so without being profane. It’s possible to explain a point of view and have reasoning to back it up without raising one’s voice, name-calling or encroaching one’s personal space.

Some people may argue that in the Bible, we are taught to “Honor your father and mother,” which is true. But the Bible also states ”Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

In this case, it is evident that it is not only the responsibility of the child to be kind and respectful to their parents but also the responsibility of the parents to return that same attitude — it’s a two-way street. It’s key to note that this path can extend from us now being in college, to when we have our own kids.

In many instances, such as this one surrounding this belief, there seems to be a divide between the generations. Bonding with older people can be good and is something our generation should take part in. There is a lot of learning that can happen for each party.

We are not trying to bash the older generation. They are very important to our past and our present. But we can’t allow their age to grant them permission to treat us badly without a legitimate reason.

As the next generation, we should try to change the meaning of the phrase so that our children don’t allow people older than them to just treat them any way they feel. Age should not be a measure of whether someone deserves respect or not; instead, we should treat everyone equally from the beginning.