Lessons of the Elders

Today I discovered I am officially “older”. After sitting in on a workshop and being inspired by college students who are passionate about changing our society, I realized that in alot of ways I was just like them when I was their age. I think I more ways than one, I am still just like them. Watching them interact with one another ignited a fire in me that I thought was long gone.

I walked away from the experience with one glaring realization…the difference between me then, and them now is my respect for my elders. My realizing that people who were older than me; people who had more experience than me were (and still are) assets to me. They are an invaluable resource. Whereas these young men and women feel like everything they need to know, they already know. They feel they need no input from people who have “been there, done that”. In their operating with this attitude, they make their lives harder than they really have to be.

Back in my day, we were taught to respect our elders. Most of that was because the elders weren’t afraid of us. They didn’t fear reminding us what “a child’s place” was. They told us when we were wrong. They demanded their respect. And if need be, they most certainly didn’t mind opening up some SERIOUS cans of whoop-ass.

They taught us the importance of humility. They showed us what it meant to walk in integrity. We learned that community was a necessity. More than anything, we learned that when we were in public, we represented more than just ourselves, we represented THEM.

This all leads me to question whether or not we have failed our young people. Has our trying to empower them actually crippled them? Does our unwillingness to be strong disciplinarians send a message that we are weak? Have we created an environment where the next generation is raising themselves?

I think we need to revive the spirit of Big Mama and Pops. We should remember the lessons they taught us about having noble character. We need to start passing along what the elders put in us…the knowledge that above all things, it’s our responsibility to be honorable people.


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