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Archive for the tag “manners”

Seeking courtesy

http://www.hemantlodha.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Honestly-Be-Polite-62.jpgCommon courtesy – the act of being polite in even the meaningless of situations – is a trait we all have, yet very few choose to use. Take for example any phone call you make to any service, public or private. Or every time you walk into a store or an office seeking assistance. You are almost always left wondering if people simply like to be rude. If it is innate or if it comes to them more naturally than simply being kind or, at the least, fundamentally polite.

Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It is the cheapest of pleasures, costs nothing and conveys much” (Erastus Wiman).

There is a saying that “courtesy is simply doing unto others what you would like them to do unto you”. Yet it all comes down to one simple thing: upbringing.

Our behaviour is an aspect that we obtain first by mimicking and then by observing and repeating what we see around us. It is a reflection of what we are taught and how we are raised. Of what our society and culture represent. Hence, having manners and being polite is something that makes us shine, to put it simply. The opposite easily places us on someone’s list to avoid.

Being well-mannered does not cost much. Just turn the frown into a smile and say a kind word. What you will get in return will be gratification alone. And everyone will be left in a happier mood. Isn’t that worth it?

“Politeness is a sign of dignity, not subservience” (Theodore Roosevelt).

What?

rude-boys-bus-stop-10300805The other day I took the bus down town. At the next stop an old lady grabbed the handle at the door and yelled to the driver if it made a certain stop. After he yelled back to affirm, she – with great difficulty – pulled herself in. There weren’t many people in the bus during that time of day. Two twin girls had taken up two seats in the front of the bus (you know, the ones that are usually assigned to people who need them the most) and their mother was sitting next to them across the aisle. I looked around and the people commuting weren’t really old. At least not as old as this lady.

She was obviously in pain from something. You could see it in her facial expression that she needed to sit down, as she was already panting from the effort to catch the bus and then actually get on it.

She looked around and I observed.

No-one seemed to care.

No-one, not even one person – anyone – even thought of giving up their seat for this woman. (I was standing, so I couldn’t really help).

You could see she was boiling inside, looking at the twin little girls who were carefreely staring out their window, and then their mother who didn’t really seem concerned about anything other than when they would reach their stop.

The women sitting next to the mother then got up to get off at the next stop and the old lady tried to squeeze in to sit in the inner side of the seat as the mother had not budged. The old lady resorted to clearly stating that she wants to sit down because her foot is hurting, and only then did the mother get up to let her sit.

I am left wondering, are there no manners anymore? Savoir-vivre and savoir-faire are obviously non-existent, and the only thing left is the savoir-moi.

We live in a society where everyone only cares about themselves. Where the mentality of “as long as I’m ok, I don’t care about anyone else” reigns. Where giving up your seat for someone who obviously needs it more than you should be a given. But it’s not. (And let’s not even talk about the example the parents give their children…)

Where the words ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you’ are no longer part of our vocabulary, but instead they have given way to ‘what’, and all the swear words you can imagine.

Rudeness is such a part of our everyday lives that people have stopped paying attention to or being bothered by exactly how….rude it all is.

Walking on the sidewalk and trying to overpass people who are trailing along at snail’s pace, talking on the phone, while at the same time puffing chimney-loads of smoke back at your face. Trying to quickly insert all your shopping in the plastic bags at the end of the counter, so you have time to pay the bill without having to gather remaining items, when the next customer pushes his/her way over to your side and is literally breathing down your neck. Reaching a bus stop and realizing there is a person there taking up the entire bench, having comfortably adjusted themselves in the very middle of the seat with all their belongings on either side. There are numerous more examples of how everyone tries to make everything easier for themselves, without caring how much more difficult things become for everyone else.

There is no ‘we’ in our lives anymore. Only an ‘I’ which comes first.

Easy for me – Hard for you

In order to facilitate things for ourselves, we usually end up making things more difficult for others. For example, parking in the most obnoxious of places, simply for the sake of being closer to our destination: on the pavements, sidewalks, in front of entrances/exits, around turns, in the middle of the street. Simply anywhere that will best serve our needs. Failing to realize, however, that this ease of ours makes life all the more difficult for the rest.

Selflessness is a rare characteristic in our times. And it seems all people care about is how to best serve themselves, above and beyond others, and even at the expense of others. Fighting like hunters over food, the need to contend with others for commodities has become so embedded in daily routines, that this is how society now learns to behave. Skirmishing over even insignificant matters. Simply for the desire to show superiority over others. The motto that rules the day thus is “live and let die – as long as I’m fine, who cares about others”.

In an evolving world, instead of coming closer together we are drifting further apart. Societies are becoming all the more uncivilised and the rule of the jungle is reapplied. Survival of the fittest. Perhaps that is the reason why reality-shows monitoring each and every minute in the lives of enclosed contestants record such high viewings. People want to see what others do and find every bit of excuse to make fun of, condemn, criticize. Altruism and generosity are terms relatively unbeknown to society. Yet, when it comes to giving money to charities and other fundraisers, everybody is more than willing to show their philanthropist nature. Most, gaining on the side by the publicity and exposure they receive on account of it.

Even in supermarkets, with hundreds of products in line available to all, we witness trolleys crashing into each other, carelessly left here and there, while their owners run back and forth picking up things and moving them around, as if it is a contest to be won. And in the eyes of an independent observer, (for example KD who also told me of this), until all of these people actually pay at the cashier, they haven’t really bought anything; they’re simply shifting things around! And even left abandoned for the supermarket employees to re-arrange. At times it seems like even shopping is becoming a competition. Who will shop more, the more expensive products, the more exquisite wines, the more extraordinary food. Everything is becoming a matter of showcase.

And all that is linked to the ego – the “I” or self of any person. The essence of what builds up or tears down a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Yet, there is a difference to being confident and being overconfident. The first implies feeling self-assured, while the latter insinuates a taste of egotism – selfishness that reveals itself in trying to appear better, smarter and dominant to all others. And thus leads to the belief that “I’d better look out for myself first, because no-one else will do it for me”. It is sad that in the 21st century people still behave in such conceited and egotistical ways, ignoring or simply not caring that in a democratic and contemporary society uniting forces would actually facilitate everyone’s lives and improve everything for the better. If we would all simply help each other and follow those simple principles upon which society was based, life would be much more stress-free indeed.

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