In fact, it's occurred to me lately that there are many habits or ways our older generations possess which are slowly but surely fading from our culture, things we will be amiss to let slip from our possession without learning them ourselves. These are ways, behaviors, values, mindsets, and skills we may esteem, but many of us have failed to weave into the fabric of our own lives. We haven't taken "pains" with these things, if you will. We value them, but not to the point that we take the time and put forth the effort to develop them, learn them, embrace them.
Here are 8 things we could learn from the generation ahead of us:
- Manners matter. I've noticed a startling decline in the social graces of children and adults alike in recent years. In fact, I've noticed an increasingly lax regard for manners in my own home, my own life. I've heard it said that manners are one of the few things that separate us from the animals. If that's the case, our world is fast becoming a zoo. Maybe it's time to pull out our Emily Post guide to good manners again. And let's stop using those around us and their ill manners as an excuse. Let's set the bar high and refuse to lower it again.
- There's something to be said for privacy. It really concerns me the way we all tell all...on Facebook, Twitter, our blogs, reality tv, etc. Then later we wonder why someone's regard for us has seemingly changed. Hmmm. Could it be that there's something to having a little bit of mystique about you? I think so. Think discretion, discernment, privacy.
- There's a time and a place. Our younger generations seem to think less of social boundaries. The word "appropriate" has lost all meaning. But truthfully, the Bible even tells us to choose our words wisely, to speak an appropriate word. It also tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything, a specific time. And the implication is that there is also a time that is not for certain things. Could it be time for some of us to think about when and where and to whom we are saying, wearing, or doing certain things?
- Children need to obey. Hello, this is as biblical as you can get. And yet I keep hearing of parents who don't believe in discipline, punishment, or even consequences. Though not perfect in their parenting either, the older generations do seem to at least understand that if you raise children to think there are no consequences to their actions, you will simply be bailing them out of those "non" consequences for the rest of their lives.
- Enough. Maybe it's because so many of them had a time or two in their lives when they really and truly didn't have enough, but most senior adults I know seem to understand the concept of sufficiency better than we of the more materialistic mindset. We could learn a thing or two about having enough clothes, enough to eat, enough money in the bank, enough stuff, etc. And no, I'm not suggesting we need to learn how to get enough; I'm saying we all have enough and it's time to stop accumulating. Period.
- Your integrity counts. It counts at work, in the church, at home, in your community. And it counts even more if you manage to be the same person in all of those places.
- Life is work. We younger folk seem to operate under the notion that the only purpose for work is to earn money and time off for vacations and retirement. But the older generations showed us that life is work, not just from 9 to 5 either. They worked on the job and then came home and worked in the yard, on the car, in the house, at the church, and in the little league dugout. And look what we have to show for it today. The Bible teaches that God made us to work and enjoy it. But until we change our attitude about work we will not enjoy it.
- Sacrifice is worth it. Whether we're sacrificing for others or doing without now so we'll have something special in the future, sacrifice pays off. Has the principle of delayed gratification been lost on our generation? Almost. That's part of what got us into this recent financial crisis in our country. But we can still learn to do without for the greater good.
What have you noticed about the older generations that seems to be lost on today's culture? What do you admire about those walking the path a few steps ahead? They may be walking a little slower than they once did, and their gait may not be as steady. But it might be worth running up and listening in to what they have to say.
PS - It's not too late to vote on my new cover for my book The View from My Front Porch. I'd love to know what you think. And I'm giving away a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a book to one lucky voter. You need to vote by noon on Friday, July 20th.