‘What do you say?’
This was mum’s standard response whenever she gave me anything. Things were withheld from me until I said the ‘magic words’.
It was the early seventies and manners still mattered then.
Sadly, times have changed.
In the beginning they were just words, much like reciting the Lord’s Prayer at school. I said them without thinking but as I got older I began to understand the importance of the words that society required me to say.
Good manners are a code of conduct based on courtesy. When we are saying ‘Thank You’ we are showing our gratitude and respect.
People don’t have to do things for us. It is not our right to receive. However, today’s society seems think that it is their right to receive. As my wonderful MIL used to say,
Those buggers come from Havington, instead of Givington!
When I think of all the things that people have done for me over the years, ‘Thank you’ seems an inadequate response.
Note, I say what people have done for me as opposed to what people have bought me. Of course I am thankful when I am given a gift but it’s never the gift itself that I am thankful for, it’s the fact that the person has thought about me. Most precious of all is the time that people have given me because that is the best gift of all and it’s free, as are manners.
Saying thank you is a sign of respect. It shows the giver that what they have done is valued. If the receiver simply takes without acknowledging it, the giver feels that their gift (or deed) is meaningless and makes for unpleasantness.
I have watched a society change to one where manners don’t matter. I see rudeness and ignorance everyday. Examples such as when I stood aside to allow a young mother through with her pram and she walked past me without acknowledgement of any kind.
On one occasion, I said ‘You’re welcome!’ as one young mother walked past me.
This was her response..
A wise young lady made the point that sometimes people might be rude because they are having a bad day and it is a good point and worth bearing in mind but usually it’s just a case of bad manners because that’s all the person knows. This is the sad reality.
I have given up my seat on buses for the elderly and pregnant. I open the door for people, regardless of gender or age. I am a courteous driver. I mute my phone in cafes. These are small actions but I have been the pregnant lady on the bus and I have been the driver stuck at a junction at the mercy of someone letting me out and I know the difference that these small courtesies can make to somebody’s day. Mobile phones? Don’t start me! That’s a whole blog post all to itself!
It seems to me that in today’s society there is a distinct manners, etiquette, politeness and courtesy malfunction!
Living opposite a school reveals ignorance and inconsideration on a daily basis by parents who drive their children to school. They selfishly (and illegally) park on the pavement so that pedestrians have to walk into the road to get past. Seemingly protecting a wing mirror takes precedence over a human’s life.
They park on the yellow zig-zag lines despite the big yellow sign that tells them not to and they have little consideration for the residents who live around the school. Unbelievably (or not) one parent actually parked in my neighbours driveway one morning but unfortunately for her – my neighbour came back. Oops!
The way I see it is that it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets hurt either by being knocked over by a car or knocked out by an angry resident.
The younger generation seem to be too busy interacting with their mobile phones to be courteous but there is a minority movement known as Steampunk who’s core values thankfully include good manners.
At face-value, steampunk is about fashion but it’s it’s much deeper than that – it’s a way of life.
Coined by author Kevin Jeter as a way of distinguishing him and fellow sci-fi writers from the futuristic ‘cyberpunks’, steampunk mixes the technology of today with the aesthetics of the Victorian era. Undoubtedly there are many dark aspects of the Victorian era that need to remain there but good manners were an important part of that society and the steampunk movement, albeit in a small and eccentric way, is trying to bring it back. Thank God for eccentrics, I say!
I have a theory that behind every rude child/teenager there is a parent who failed to teach them any manners.
I was taught to be courteous and in turn taught my children to be the same – even S who has social communication problems.
I’m tired of living in a society that doesn’t show respect for one another. How do we correct this though? Sarcasm either goes over people’s heads or incites an angry response like Lady Eff Off’s.
Why do we have this problem?
Studies show that the problem is mainly with 18 – 34 year old’s. Over 55’s generally exhibit better manners most likely because that they are of a generation where manners were important.
Today’s youths are generally narcissistic and self-centered. They are the me, me, me generation who couldn’t give a ferret’s fart about people who they don’t identify with. We have progressed so far with technology over the last few decades but the price is that our society has changed for the worse.
In our home, dinnertime is where we sit down as a family and ALL technology is banned and I hope that my children will carry on this tradition because one of the things that I loved about my childhood is that I had my parents full attention at the dinner table. We talked about our day and it mattered to me. The memory of their parents giving social media attention instead of them is not one I want for my future grandchildren.
I refuse to be ill mannered and though ignorance can make life unpleasant, I will continue to fly the flag for good manners and hope that it inspires others to be more polite and considerate.
Thank you for reading.
“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners” ~ Laurence Stern