‘In my day…’
Those three words usually herald the end of childhood and the beginning of an inability to look at events objectively. I have been using them since I was about fourteen, however, so I’m unsure as to how true that is. I’ll leave it to you to work out by the end of this rant and let me know.
The reason for their use this time centres on behaviour and community, specifically the behaviour of young people.
I wont pretend to have been raised in either a time or place where the neighbourhood lived in each other’s pockets or knew every person in a three street radius by name, but to this day, if I walk down any street in that radius there’s a strong chance I’ll bump in to someone who’ll ask me for an update on, not only my life, but the lives of my parent’s as well.
As most of this neighbourhood notoriety comes from my primary school years, its something I’ve lived with all my life. Along with it, came the lessons from my parents on how to behave in public:
You are polite to everyone, especially to your elders.
You do not start fights.
You do not call people names.
You show respect to all around you, especially to your elders.
You treat others the way you would want to be treated your self.
There were others, but you get the gist, I’m sure. Basically: Be good, Don’t embarrass me.
Central to these rules seemed to be the correct behaviour for talking to adults.
The other key point was the closing line: ‘And if I find out you’ve been bad, God Help You…’. What He would be helping me with was never clarified, but the threat was enough to make sure I never tried to find out. I also know that every single person I grew up with had some version of that lecture recited to them at some point, and they all more or less took the warning on board.
Sure there were slip ups from time to time, but as far as I remember they were for the most part directed at classmates and people of our own age. Never would we dare to insult an adult, especially a stranger. Mostly because we knew what would happen when our parents found out. Which they would.
Unfortunately, this seems to have changed. The older I get, the more I seem to hear of or see instances where children think its well within their rights to shout, curse or harm someone, including those older than themselves, for no other reason than to amuse themselves or gain something they want.
And not only in the confines of a class room or other building, but also at strangers in the street. The fear that reports of your actions will get back to you parents seems not to exist any more, or at least its disregarded.
But is that a good thing?