Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
It is interesting that honouring your father and mother made it into the Ten Commandments. This means a two things 1) It is very important to God himself and, 2) It is crucial for good relations between human beings. This is also the ONLY Commandment with a promise- the promise of having a long life.
Many agree that this Commandment includes all elders not just your biological parents. Respect for elders and old age is an intrinsic part of the Japanese culture; Japan also has the highest (1st) life expectancy out of 198 countries- 80 years for males, 87 years for females. Trinidad and Tobago ranks 117th with 67 years for males and 74 years for females. There isn’t enough evidence to correlate the two but this is interesting nonetheless.
So how do we honour our parents and elders? This is the ABCD of it:
As we grow into adulthood we garner more and more knowledge, we get savy with emerging technology and new systems. In the meantime our parents may not be not as sharp and quick as they used to be. This doesn’t mean we should respect them any less.
Have you every witnessed someone speaking in loud, sharp, sarcastic tones to their parents in public? Elderly abuse is a real issue in our society. It is not only physical, it is very often verbal and emotional. By their attitude, words, and action some are saying to parents, ‘you are outdated, you don’t know what is going on, you are stupid, you don’t know anything that matters, you are old and useless, you are a burden’. Guard against negative attitudes toward your parents and your elders.
There is this thing with parents and shame. Shameful behaviour of their offspring hurts to the core- lewd behaviour in public, involvement in crime and scandalous situations, being disrespectful, ill-tempered, rude, boorish…you get the picture. Even though we may be out of school, our parents still want a good report about our behaviour with the rest of society. If your parents are no longer around, honour their legacy by the life you live. Be a good, honest, useful citizen in this world.
Life gets busy, complicated and demanding. Jobs, children and errands can take up all our time and energy. Make the time to show your parents you care about them by going out of your way to visit them and offer assistance if they need it. Remember they are not here forever.
Deference implies a yielding or submitting to the judgment of a recognized superior out of respect or reverence. You can honour your parents by asking their advice. This does not mean that we give up good judgement but find opportunities to ask their opinion on decisions you are contemplating. It could be as simple as “Should I go to the grocery after I come from South?” or as weighty as ” Do you think I should marry________?”. It up to you to decide what works for you. The bottom line is the warmth they feel in their hearts when you show that you value their opinion, their life experience and their judgement is much better medicine than any doctor can prescribe.
Thank God for parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, neighbours and family friends who cared for us all through our lives.
Be the change you want to see in T&T