We have all heard the old idem; “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This was not the advice that children were taught in the rural South when I was young. We were cautioned to conduct ourselves in accordance with the accepted behavior of children, i.e., Yes-ma’am, No-ma’am, Thank you, sir. In addition, anyone beyond the age of twenty was addressed as Mr. or Miz.
Being taught right from wrong at home, we were expected to exercise these teaching’s if we were away from the nest and in the presence of others. If the occasion arose for us to be anywhere without parental supervision, it was drilled into us before leaving to “Act like you’ve had some raising.”
Manners were as important as our actions. If one of us was invited to share a meal with another family, we were also instructed to “mind your manners; ya’hear.” Things were more or less relaxed when we were at home, just so long as we “knew better.”
School teachers were held in high esteem and were always addressed as Miz. Smith, Miz. Jones, or Mr. Brown. The Principal of the school was up there right next to GOD as far as we were concerned. If we did anything to receive a spanking at school, it was a known fact that we would get another one when we got home.
At the top of the pecking order were ‘Ministers.’ It was demanded of us to show the proper respect to members of the Clergy. NEVER were we allowed to call a Minister by his first name. It was always ‘Rev. Smith, Reverend, or simply Preacher.’ This respect was not hard to instill in our young minds because we feared the fire and brimstone that would surely come if we were not on our best behavior in their presence.
Thinking back, I do not recall anyone who was permanently damaged by these teachings, and I firmly believe that if some of these requirements were made of youth today, there would be less violence in our world.
It’s really so simple. Just “Act like you’ve had some raising.” Now, that’s not so hard, is it…?