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There's No Age Requirement for Respect

Karamarie Joyce ‘15, Editor in Chief

“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether the is the garbage man or the president of the university” – Albert Einstein

From a young age, we are taught a timeless message that sticks with us throughout our lifetime: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself – the Golden Rule. This rule has been instilled in our heads since pre-school, where we apply it to everything from sharing our toys to being good listeners while our classmates are talking.

Being taught the ethics of the Golden Rule, we are told to always respect our elders, for they have paved the path for the life that we live today. We universally show them respect, from something trivial like holding the door open to helping an elderly women carry her groceries to the car. Companies even go to great lengths to show special consideration to elders with things like “Early Bird Specials” and senior citizen discounts. While is it unanimously known to respect your elders, it seems to be just the opposite treatment towards the youth of America.

Respect is something that each and every person deserves; regardless of age, race or sexual orientation, we are all created equal and therefore deserve to be treated that way. Why is it that our generation, the youth of America, seems to be left out of this equation when it comes to the matter of respect? As a teenager you are still learning and growing into the person you will become. Once we hit our twenties we are striving to reach the goals we have set for ourselves and work our hardest to achieve them. Within youth there are those who have given up and think life is about sex and partying, but they solely represent a small sample population rather than the greater majority of young people today. A large portion of this generation has goals and morals and is striving to build a foundation for the future and become productive members of society. Your twenties are about growing and learning about yourself and the world around you. However, it seems to be right at this age that individuals are shown more disrespect than at any other time during our lives.

Today it is nearly impossible to land a job without experience, and how do we gain experience? By participating in an internship. At one point in time interns were looked at as prodigies and the future of the companies that they were working for. Now companies know we need them, at least on our resumes to be in any position to even be considered for a job, and take advantage of that. They don’t find it necessary to pay us for our work since they are doing us the favor by giving us experience. Interns come and go so fast some management doesn’t even take the time to learn their names. And why should they? In that time of passing through, what is the purpose of the intern? We are the ones who get to do the work the big shots won’t waste their time completing. When it comes down to it, an intern level position is where everyone must start to make it in the field they desire. So shouldn’t companies be encouraging and enlightening the interns with the realization they are the future? Instead, they’re so caught up in the limelight of their own successes they don’t realize one day, sooner rather than later, that light is going to go out, and when it does it will shine right to the person they couldn’t give a spare minute to.

This isn’t the only way our generation is disrespected. People in general look at us as naive, and believe we lack world knowledge. As young people, we are targeted and taken advantage of daily. Those older than us try to use our lack of knowledge against us and trick us into getting what they want in return. Car salesman and realtors seek out the young and con us into paying more, not giving us the deal that they would offer to someone older since “we don’t know any better” than to accept less. Servers will look at a young couple dining in their section and not work as hard as they would if it were an older couple, judging their age as determining factor to the amount of money they are willing to dish out for a tip. And they’re right – we won’t tip well, but it’s not because of our age. Rather, it’s the quality of service we receive.

It seems people treat those who are the same age as them, as well as older, as they would like to be treated, yet disregard the adolescence. How are we supposed to gain life experience in our formative years in a world where our elders – who we admire so highly – don’t give us a chance to prove ourselves? Rather than educating the youth and preparing us for the future, they take advantage of our efforts. This trend only breeds an endless cycle of incompetence, with the youth being mistreated and growing older only to do the same to the generations that follow.

Just as we should show respect to our elders, our elders should show respect to us. Companies should take time to realize that although the work an intern completes may not be all that difficult, they are there and are willing to put forth their best effort into whatever task is assigned. To be old and wise you must first be young and dumb. Individuals deserve respect for their actions and character accumulated through time, not the “finite wisdom” that is assumed in correlation with their age. It’s time we all took a step back and be reminded of what we learned in pre-school, the Golden Rule, and realize there is no age requirement for respect.

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