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Hats Off to Respect

Looking back on my growing up years, I don’t recall any time in particular when someone told me it was disrespectful to wear a hat in the house. Maybe I just noticed it from others, or heard other people talking about it. Or maybe it was from mere utilitarian motives: In my mind, the purpose of a hat is to keep sun or rain off your head, and when you’re indoors, this protection is no longer necessary. But regardless, traditionally a man is considered disrespectful if he wears his hat indoors (ladies can keep them on, because theirs are mainly decorative).

I have had some conversations of late with people my own age who informed me that this is no longer a sign of disrespect in our society. I will continue to do it, because it is part of my nature, but is this the case? Has our culture changed in this point, to where no offense will be taken when a man wears a hat indoors?

Last week I was on a mission trip in West Virginia with 14 other Christians, and while visiting a nursing home a Christian lady remarked that she really appreciated me taking off my hat when we came in—I didn’t notice whether some of my team members may have neglected to remove their caps, but that is a possibility. She then went on to cite some male figure in her family—her father, perhaps—who had stressed the point in her past.

I think what my friends have said is becoming true: among middle-aged and younger people in the United States, no one really thinks about removing their hat when entering a building. However, it is also clear to me that there still exists a generation that holds to this way of showing respect, and out of respect for them, I believe that we men should be more conscious of that aspect of culture (even if it is passing away), and observe it when in the company of older people. As for me, I’m quite content to continue in all situations even if the idea disappears completely, since I like it. But the bottom line is this: Be thoughtful, and show respect!