Listen, please

it’s a familiar scenario, you go to a meal with older relatives and at the end there’s some food left and everyone’s full.  eager not to waste any of the leftovers the older relatives start scanning the plates of the younger ones to see who might be able to finish it before happily declaring, “hey, young man/girl, you’re still growing, so please help to finish the food, ok?”

the age-old response would be to convey thanks, take the food and eat it, graciously.

lately i’ve gotten quite tired of that old routine.  For starters i’m not quite the young man anymore. Secondly, i don’t feel that happy full and satisfied feeling anymore at the end of a large meal… i just feel stuffed.

so a couple of times there’s been a stand-off of sorts where i declare quite bluntly that i’m full, i’m not quite as young as i used to be and i don’t want to eat anymore.  this usually results in loud grumblings of how we should not waste food, what shall we do with the excess food anyway? etc, all with the underlying implication that i’m not being thankful for having such good food to eat and why am i being so difficult?  Shouldn’t youngsters just listen to their elders anyway?

And that’s where the problem lies, why is it so hard for elder relations, particularly of the chinese persuasion to listen to their children, or younger generations of kin?

(no, scratch that, grandparents often listen more intently to their grandkids than their parents ever would… sometimes, so maybe it’s a generation thing?)

and that’s why adults are also not used to being talked back to. Hence the friction that results from such episodes.  Suddenly you’re labelled as ‘disrespectful’.

I expect it’s because when our parents generation was growing up, they too were denied a voice and as [more] dutiful children never spoke up or questioned the requests or decisions of their elders.  Hence having long ago accepted that as a way of life, they too wish to impose this upon our generation.

I find it hard to reconcile sometimes.  As a complete and unique individual it’s often hard for me to silence my views and opinions, not because i enjoy challenging the status quo, but rather because i just want my opinion to be heard and validated.

i haven’t suddenly lost my respect for elders, in fact i still enjoy listening to their advice and treasure their thoughts and experiences as wisdom. I just can’t accept things without a reasonable or rational explanation anymore.

I know i should be gracious and patient with relations.  I know i shouldn’t talk back rudely or blatantly just to have my opinion heard (a sin of pride that i struggle with) but it’s terrible to be silenced, to feel powerless to control even a small facet of your life.

I can accept the big things that are denied me, i can even endure it for a lifetime, but give me my small comforts and victories occasionally and i’ll be satisfied.

Just please, LISTEN. God did give me a voice after all.


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