Should You Always Listen to Your Elders?

By pintswaquinas August 31, 2022

Throughout history, many societies placed a lot of emphasis on venerating and listening to the elder members of the community.

That’s not as much the case in modern America and Europe. The current online catchphrase “Ok, Boomer,” encapsulates this contemporary dismissiveness of the older generations by the young.

Now, it’s true that the older generations are not always right, nor must youth follow them on every single thing.

But there are three vices that seem prevalent among today’s youth that affect their relationships with their elders. Here are those three vices as well as three virtues to counter them.

1. Pride
Youth may think they’re better than their elders, but what real evidence is there for that? Sure, certain conditions have improved, but others have gotten worse. And we still experience many of the same temptations and fall into many of the same sins as previous generations.

To counter this vice, you need to develop humility. Come down from your young idealistic high horse and realize that we’re all broken and all need redemption. And your elders, having some experience battling these temptations, may have some good advice to share!

2. Scorn
God calls us to be in relationship with Himself as a community. This means you need to be in relationship with other people, especially other members of the Body of Christ. And not only with other members of your own generation.

Scorn for your elders creates distance and disunity. You can fight this vice by practicing generosity of engagement. This means people engaging with each other cross-generationally, especially at Mass.

Talk to your elders after Mass. Seek them out at coffee and donuts. Show how the unity of the Church transcends generations!

3. Dismissiveness
There are two basic ways that we engage with reality: by discovery and by instruction. We engage in the act of discovery when we experience reality, cultivate a memory of it, and then tune into that memory.

Our age is obsessed with discovery. Discovery is great, but it can also feed your selfishness if you refuse to be instructed by those who possess wisdom beyond your own.

Of course, instruction is when you learn from others. The virtue of docility opens your heart and mind to this instruction. You step out of your own parochial views and immerse yourself in the wider ocean of wisdom from your elders.


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