Did you ever watch a group of young people chattering to each other while some older person sat silent in their midst, almost as much ignored as if he or she were invisible?
It is a sight I see every once in a while and it always fills me with a combination of sadness and distaste. Sadness for the older person who has learned by the bitter experience of snubs or indifference to so hold his own counsel. Distaste because, besides being unkind, it is such wretched taste for young people to treat their elders that way.
It really isn’t done among people of breeding, refinement and education. It simply isn’t the thing. Even if kindness didn’t dictate courtesy to older people and a habit of including them in the conversation, good taste would.
Young people of even superficial breeding are courteous to their friend’s elders.
Any young person of the slightest pretense to manners is careful to pay graceful attention to the older members of his friends’ families; to ask after their health, to converse with them when they answer the telephone instead of immediately asking for the son or daughter, to rise when they enter the room, to say goodnight to them when leaving the house.
And young people with breeding more than skin deep are courteous to their own elders.
It Is Only Underbred Young People Who Flaunt Their Youth
It is only underbred young people who contradict their elders freely, snap them up if they dare to express an opinion, ignore them, laugh at their ideas, flaunt their own youth in their faces. People of breeding don’t flaunt their youth any more than they would their money. That’s what true breeding does for people, raises them to a higher level where courtesy and decency to each other are just as natural and indispensable habits as frequent bathing.
Breeding Should Bring Out Good Qualities in Humans
Breeding in animals is to bring out the desired qualities — in cows a large yield of milk, in a race horse speed, in the dog whatever points are considered most admirable. Breeding in human beings should strengthen all the most desirable qualities. It should make them more intelligent, more altruistic, more open minded, more healthy and more livable.
Suppose there were a human being show. ’Twould surely be most interesting to see who would take prizes on such points.
— from How to Detect Low Breeding by Ruth Cameron, 1917