Where Have They Gone?

So What’s My Question About?

It’s pretty simple. We used to be governed by rules, being polite and respecting others. Respecting them for what they are not just who they are. So what does that mean?

Well when I was a kid ions ago (yes there was electricity in the fifties!) I remember calling my parents friends Mr. or Mrs. It would never occur to me that I should call them by their first names.

The same applied to many of the people that I interacted with — a professor, a teacher, a lawyer just to name a few. As I got older, however, things changed. The one event that struck me the most was when my daughter was a little bit older, she started to call me by my first name. Whoa! That was a real shocker! I might call my father “dad”, “pa”, whatever, but I would never ever call him by his first name. That would never occur to me. And her friends did the same thing. They called me by my first name. They learned it at school (school-a place to learn new things-no matter how bad they are).

I was taught that parents and children were not equal. Doing away with the Mr. or Mrs. or Sir started to blur the lines. I know one thing for sure, that I would never call a judge by their first name, I call them your honor. The difference is that they can cite me for contempt of court. I don’t have the same power over my daughter. But my dad did, solitary confinement in my room, no pay (allowance), and fired from my job (son).

Why Did Things Change

I am not entirely sure why this changed, it just did. And I have to admit that I don’t like it.

Why? Well as I mentioned before, we respected who people were just as much as what people were. No matter what I thought of my father, I had to respect the position of father and as they say, the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. Membership has it’s privileges. He was a member of the father group, I was a member of the son group. Separate and distinct with different rights, responsibilities and privileges. The two didn’t mix in that respect.

So there was an order to things. Now there is a disorder to things. My daughter challenges me as she would her peers. The language…..well the parents out there reading this know what I’m talking about. The “office” of father no longer exists. We’re just the guys with the keys to the vault.

The Real World

The real world is changing to. I get an email that says “Dear First Name”. The familiarity that it displays is annoying. Even the canned packages will put your first name in the greeting. Yikes.

So in the outside world this has evolved into being disrespectful. If I can ignore what your “office” is why can’t I treat you like any other peer? It all hangs together. If I respect you as a professor how can I call you names to your face? Challenge your opinions in a personal rather than professional manner? When I was a college professor my students called me by my first name. It was disrespectful not just personally but professionally. They treated me like a peer. We ignore peers when they don’t do what they want us to do. We challenge them even when we don’t have the knowledge or experience to challenge. It all hangs together.

Unreturned emails, unanswered phone calls to people we know, rude comments from strangers online, wherever you turn. Rude rules.


Ah, the good old days, when we all knew our roles and acted accordingly. It was nice, and I miss it. The older I get the more I see the wisdom in the structure. Respect because there was no other choice.