One Quote from One Woman’s Life Story

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In our latest history project, I  read from a couple of interviews that are available at Library of Congress. One of the many Federal projects of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was the Federal Writers’ Project. Those writers left us with 10,000 life stories of men and women from a variety of walks of life and ethnic groups.Writers in the project conducted their interviews in the 1930s.

I copied a quote from an interview with an 82-year-old woman who lived in South Carolina. In discussing the ways that she saw life as different in the 1930s from the way it had been in earlier times, she commented:

One of the regrettable changes, I observe, is the seeming lack of respect and consideration shown by young people toward their parents and old people.

Photo of another woman with her own life story. She lived in North Carolina during the late twentieth century.  Courtesy Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

I’m sorry that lady observed that issue in what she saw around her in the 1930s. It is an old problem now and it was an old problem then. It was even an old problem when Jesus was on Earth. God addressed it way back in Exodus and Leviticus when He taught the Israelites:

Honor your father and your mother,
that your days may be prolonged in the land
which the Lord your God gives you.
Exodus 20:12

You shall rise up before the gray-headed
and honor the aged,
and you shall revere your God;
I am the Lord.
Leviticus 19:32

God gives parents the ideal situation in which to teach their children how to obey these commands. As mamas and daddies honor their own parents, they teach their children how to honor their own parents. As mamas and daddies rise before the gray-headed and honor the aged, they teach their children to do the same.

Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
Proverbs 23:22

The Bible gives us practical instructions on what honoring and respecting our elders looks like:

Do not sharply rebuke an older man,
but rather appeal to him as a father,
to the younger men as brothers, 
the older women as mothers,
and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
Honor widows who are widows indeed;
but if any widow has children or grandchildren,
they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family
and to make some return to their parents;
for this is acceptable in the sight of God.
1 Timothy 5:1-4



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