It all started when I was on the Tube last week and a woman in her 30s gave up her seat to an elderly man on walking sticks, he thanked her and took the proffered seat…next to the child, whose mother didn’t think it necessary to get her little girl to stand for the man.
I suppose when you think about it, the question is “Does this show a lack of respect?”
From the mother, from the child? To me it seems to be the norm these days, in a Britain that is too cool to stand up (no pun intended) for what are now see as old-fashioned values.
In Britain in the 1900s, respect was demanded by those who held the power, money and status, but it was likely to be a sham respect, not earned by the actions or manners of the one demanding it. In the 1940s it was all about “being a lady” or a “real man”, and good manners earned you respect and “genteel” was something people aspired to. Following the levelling of society’s powerful and the upper classes in the World Wars, being polite and respectful developed a bad rap to be rebelled against and was becoming viewed more as “putting on airs and graces”.
Is it any different abroad?…probably not. There seem to be many people like me, stuck in the past, who don’t get the modern vibe around the culture of self, self and more self.
Showing respect for others these days seems to be a sign of weakness, almost as if giving respect selflessly, detracts from the giver in some way, maybe even making them look naïve or a bit dim.
Once respecting others becomes an act that attracts a personal cost, where do we go from here?
How about the case this week of the 6 care workers sentenced for ill-treating residents. The son of the abused resident said of the convicted “there was no respect”. The strong generations now having their day, seem to have little if any respect for older people, who might be viewed as just living longer and longer and using up resources that could be conserved.
What about those at the end of their life…often treated with indifference in the health sector as seen in its discredited use of the Liverpool Care Pathway and more recently in a new report claiming that hospitals continue to fail patients at end of life.
To take this to its inevitable conclusion…with the assisted dying legislation paving the way for an “acceptable” solution, and with respect for others on the slide, will we slip into a future we weren’t expecting?
The future “cultural war” to be waged is likely to be young v old, as the scary prospect of a world populated by millions of old people, who need care, but aren’t valued, overwhelms a generation who were never taught to respect older people anyway.