A generation without R-E-S-P-E-C-T 255



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44 years ago, back in 1967, Aretha Franklin released the song “RESPECT”.  It was a landmark song of the feminist movement.  It was also a song close to the hearts of many African Americans, who felt it was their own civil rights cry.    Looking back, it is a song that called for the recognition of not only racial issues, but also gender inequalities and today, the world is a different place for all the changes that have taken place.

But I ask you now if we are facing a different problem of respect, a lack of respect for our older generations and their wisdom, and a lack of appreciation for authority, and a lack of respect for hard work and adversity and what it teaches us.

There is a whole generation of children and even 20+ year olds that have been born with technology in their hands, and don’t know a time when they had to calculate for themselves, using their brain.  They don’t seem to need patience or the tenacity to get through hard times, because they are bubble wrapped beyond their impact.  And they don’t expect to “work their way up”, they expect to be handed their ideal jobs on a platter.  The don’t stand while older people sit, and they don’t care…. They put their earphones in and look out the window.

It is frustrating, and disappointing, but what does it mean for the future?  I was raised on a steady diet of “respect your elders”, being taught to stand on a train to let someone older sit down, and to offer to help, and expect to work hard to get anywhere… and I do…

Work life balance is a cry of a new generation, and it is not without merit… but who ever changed their world sitting on the couch living in “balance”.  I don’t know anyone.

How does society start to look when younger people don’t respect age and experience as an authority for the future?  When they think they can do it better, younger and push older people out the way like our years of learnings don’t matter?

What kind of workplaces will we have if young people want to start halfway up the ladder before they have stepped on the bottom rung?  Especially if our country’s low unemployment keeps them fulfilled in a job despite their atrocious productivity?

How does society look if the young people board the bus and look at their feet so they deliberately can’t see a pregnant or older person board… if you deliberately don’t look… you wont have to get up…

And then there are those who have never even been taught what good manners are…

And what will the world look like in twenty years if we let our next generations go on in “cruise control”?  Australia’s productivity has already fallen from top five in the world to 25th in the world over recent years… could it get worse? Is respect driving us down?


Perhaps we should relaunch the song for a new generation…

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Respect is the oil that smooths life. Respect is the softening of the blows, the kind word; the thought for someone else, we have just eliminated it in our society. I would love to see these values return to society, to start being really expected of the pupils in schools, not just spouted in a meaningless way. A thought provoking article, and think it should start a new movement. “Return of Respect”?

  2. you said it , respect starts at home, it needs to be taught at school, I hate when people say ” respect should be earnt”, We were taught that you give respect to everyone. you can lose respect, but it has to be given first.I’m over sixty, but I will stand up for someone elderly or pregnant. If young people want OUR respect then they had better start giving it in return.I have seen incidents when young people have unselfishly given up there seats. But they are almost always been foreigners. That has to tell you something!

  3. When it is no longer politically correct to castigate children, even when they are your own, when they do wrong; and ethics and integrity are not taught at schools as it might be construed as harassment or discrimination, what hope do the younger generations have to know what is “right” and what is “wrong”. It’s not their fault – blame the government and the do-gooders of this world who have utterly ruined it.

  4. Yes, I agree with everything in your article, Rebecca, and also the comments. However, I have seen a young person stand or hold the door open for an older person without a word of thanks or acknowledgement from the older person. So it can cut both ways. I, too, although I’m in my 60s will stand for an older person or a pregnant woman. And if anyone offers me a seat, I always smile and say thank you. I believe that how we treat others will reflect back to us with people treating us the same way. It works for me.

    1 REPLY
    • I totally agree, respect works both ways, don’t expect to receive it if you don’t give it just because we are of senior years. I do believe the teaching of respect starts at home and carries on into the school arena, if this is done properly then by the time a child is 18 years of age they will have respect and they will treat people of all ages, colour’s and creeds with respect and hopefully be acknowledged for it.

  5. Respect seems to have gone out the door along with common sense, lets hope they both come back, sooner rather than later.

  6. If our children do not see their PARENTS and FAMILY SHOW respect for each other….how do they learn to give it. In all research I have read more underlying problems such as PAS, Parent Alienation Syndrome and Grandparent Alienation Syndrome is on the rise…..if Families don’t stand together their is no hope. “United we stand…divided we fall”. So so sad!

  7. There will always be polite and rude old people, and there will always be polite and rude old people. The issue is courtesy not respect. I will give up my seat to anyone who needs it more, male female, young or old. I am a senior – almost. Old people do complain more, want more and are less tolerant than they were when younger. When I was a kid I looked at my grandparents and their generation and couldnot imagine my parents being grumpy like that, then about 40 years ago my parents began being grumpy old farts. I have an ex wife who is not a spiteful old lady that the local kids can’t stand. The problem is alienation, lack of collective identity. Have to remember many of the oldies now demanding respect were the radicals of the 60s who in many cases abused everyone.

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