Respecting your elders

How do we do it, and why should we?

Whether mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, aunt or uncle, or a longtime friend, they’ve “been around the block” a few more times than you have, and therefore probably know a thing or two that you don’t. No matter how stuck in their ways or old-fashioned they might be, it doesn’t hurt to listen to their stories and learn from their experiences. After all, some day you’ll be in their shoes, wanting to share your stories and hoping someone will lend an ear.

The great Chinese philosopher Confucius was known to stress the importance of filial piety, a virtue of respect for one’s parents, elders, and ancestors. Speaking of our parents, for example, he believed that we should obey them when we’re young, care for them when they’re old, mourn when they pass, and make sacrifices to honor them for years to come. It’s even said that when his mother passed, he mourned for three years, as was tradition.

Mourning for three years seems a bit intense, but we all can obey and care for them at the very least. They showed us the difference between what’s right and wrong, how to tie our shoes, to always look both ways before crossing the street. They cared for us and were willing to make huge sacrifices for our happiness, and were always there, whether in times of great need or when we just needed a pair of loving arms to run into.

They’re a big part of our lives and helped shape who we are today. We can choose to tune them out or let them in and realize that while their opinions may differ from ours, they’re living in a world that’s changed a lot since they were kids. So next time, whether it’s new advice or the same story you’ve heard a million times, lend an ear and give them the respect and attention they deserve.

“Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?” -Confucius




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