Respect your Elders care and respect for our elders
Why don’t you test yourself?
Answer the questions below and see whether you are also guilty of showing disrespect to elders. There is no score or marking system; you alone are your own judge.
Do you enter a room and remember to greet every single person in the room, including elders?
When you visit a friend’s home, do you say remember to take your leave from the elders of that house?
When your friends come visiting, do you introduce them to your elders?
[Even if it a simple nod or a ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’, do not ignore elders.]
Do you raise your voice when you argue or do you stay calm?
Do you try to assume control of all activities at home – not telling your mother where you plan to go out, not letting your father listen to his favourite radio station, not seeking permission before changing the channels on TV?
Do you always stay absent on important days in the family?
All these are signs of disrespect.
I’ve heard my own younger cousins asking me this question, which I too asked, until a couple of years ago – why should I respect somebody just because he/she is elder to me?
I have the answers now. Simply put, you should show respect to everybody, even those who’re younger. But especially your elders because they are ahead of you – in age, in wisdom and maturity, in experience and education. Our elders have done a lot for us, directly or indirectly and most of us owe everything to their kindness and love.
And when we show them respect, whether it is by touching their feet, or kissing their hands, or offering to press their legs, it is one way of expressing our own love and gratitude to them.
Besides, elders have also been through all the phases you are going through and know a little more about the world than you do. However much you disagree with them, give them credit for their experience.
It is likely that you do not agree with the beliefs and the sentiments of your elders. But remember that even this is nothing new. All younger generations have always disagreed with their elders and it is these differences that bring changes in human society.
Why, then, do we say that the modern generation has lost respect for elders?
I think, partly this is because, with changing times and cultural influences, youngsters no longer know what is interpreted as disrespect to elders.
For instance, in earlier times, children would not yell back. Yes, there were disagreements and debates; there always have been. But youngsters would quietly express their views and if there were arguments, they would not raise their voices. Nowadays, children fight back, causing even more aggravation. The result is an ugly war of words, with each person trying to out-shout the other.
Another example – according to our tradition, children do not sit on a higher level than their elders. Therefore, if there were no space on sofas or chairs, children would immediately give up their places, and sit on the carpet. In buses and trains, youngsters were expected to give up their places to older people.
This is not a question of who has more rights. It is simply that those who are younger have the strength (or are expected to) bear discomfort, or tolerate unpleasantness, so it is natural to show consideration to those who are older and perhaps, at a slight disadvantage.
And when you do simple things as a mark of respect, elders become aware that youngsters care for them, and they respond with affection and kindness.