It’s time to start respecting our youngers as well as our elders

PUBLISHED: 13:12 13 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:12 13 May 2018

So you've earned your retirement - well done. Now it's time to show some consideration to a younger generation, says Steven Downes. Photo: Thinkstock

So you've earned your retirement - well done. Now it's time to show some consideration to a younger generation, says Steven Downes. Photo: Thinkstock


We love a good saying, so here’s a new one for us to use - respect your youngers.

No, not Younger’s the brewer, younger people.

You know how we’ve all been taught (quite rightly) to respect our elders? Well I’m suggesting it should cut both ways.

The other day I boarded a bus on a hot day, heading from Norwich to Cromer. It was rammed, without a seat to spare.

Having just forked out a £6 return fare, I was vexed, particularly when I notice that perhaps no more than three of the passengers were under 70.

So I said in a loud voice: “Would anybody be prepared to give up their seat for a paying customer?”

No takers (and it wasn’t a serious request, more about making a point).

Can you imagine buying a cinema ticket and having to stand in the aisle because it was filled with people who hadn’t paid? Or the same on a flight? Or eating in the kitchen at a restaurant because your table was taken by people with a free pass?

It’s a strange scenario, and I don’t blame older people for using their bus passes. I’m sure I would (though I’ll never find out, as passes won’t exist and buses might not).

But, with all the windows closed and the bus becoming a great place to grow tomatoes, my blood did boil at one of the next stops.

A young mum with two small children boarded the bus - and not a single person gave up their seat.

With 70 being the new 50, there were plenty of people who could’ve stood standing for 30 minutes. And they’d be the first to tut if a young person didn’t hand over their seat to them.

For me, it’s part of a growing trend of looking down on the “snowflake generation”. Oh, how I hate that phrase.

This is the generation that has every right to melt occasionally - faced, as they are, with a blizzard of challenges that seem impossible to overcome.

Moving out of the family home, getting a mortgage, paying off their university debts, finding a stable career (instead of zero-hours work or a succession of short-term jobs that end in redundancy), caring for their elderly parents, paying care home fees...

Oh, and retiring. Dream on.

While some of UK history’s most fortunate generation enjoy numerous overseas holidays after retiring at 55 or 60 on a handsome pension, the snowflakes are seeing any prospect of a pension or a comfortable retirement disappear.

To those who are retired, I do not begrudge you anything. I dare say you did work hard, go without and overcome problems.

Every generation has its challenges. But it’s churlish to sneer at younger people, who are inheriting this country’s immense debts, which developed partly because of successive governments’ determination to bribe older people into voting for them.

In fact, my overriding impression of the snowflakes is that they are far tougher and more deserving of respect than people believe.

Resourceful, respectful, hardworking, culturally aware, tolerant: arguably our most enlightened generation yet, but hardly appreciated for it.

In fact, as if all the aforementioned inherited problems are not enough, they are also being handed a hand grenade minus its pin - Brexit - by those who won’t be around for long enough to suffer the full effects.

Yes, I’m angry. In fact, I’m furious, because I’m talking about my children, my grandchildren, their future.

My children aren’t snowflakes. The younger people I work with are not snowflakes. The younger people I play football with are not snowflakes.

So how about a bit of “respect your youngers” role reversal?

Give up your seat on the bus to a student struggling with a laptop and a pile of assignments.

Let a young person go ahead of you in a supermarket queue.

Hand over your winter fuel allowance to a young couple struggling to find a mortgage deposit.

It won’t ease the pain of working forever, but it will at least help to bridge the generation gap and burn the snowflake nonsense out of people’s minds.

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