Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Are good manners passé?

I came across the most fascinating article this morning in the NY Times that discusses a case where two gentlemen were sitting in a bar and two ladies were standing (no seats available).  The employees asked the gentlemen to give up their seats to the ladies and one of the men was upset about being asked to give up his seat to a woman and took the case to court.  I would love for you to read this article...but I am curious as to your views on this subject.

The article goes into further speculation as to why manners could be on the decline.  Family dinners are less frequent, our world is more fast-paced, manners are insincere, etc.  I found these arguments to be most intriguing as my philosophy has always been that good manners can make others feel comfortable (when I'm doing it right-which I don't always accomplish) and don't alienate others or come across as insincere.

I do believe that teaching the next generation good manners and etiquette comes more from an example than from what we preach.  As most parents can attest, our children learn best from our actions and mimic what we do, not what we say we will do.  I personally think that we do live in a disrespectful world where manners and good taste have become eroded, where Beavis and Butthead have made a comeback by popular demand?  Seriously?  If that is any indication of the level of taste or class that we are accepting into our homes, then yes, I can see how manners would take a back seat in homes very quickly and respect would fly right out the window.

In a world where Sponge Bob rules (not that he hasn't gotten a giggle out of me...) it doesn't surprise me that our children speak disrespectfully to us and that we aren't too terribly shocked by it, or are even amused by it (although we have to take things with a grain of salt or else we'd go nuts as parents- I DO have a sense of humor people).

I guess my point is that I don't believe that manners come and go like the tide.  I believe they are like values.  I believe they are a constant in a person's life and make up part of their integrity.  Some of the comments in the article suggest that manners can be surface, and perhaps sometimes, holding back a comment or not honking the horn could be seen as "not being yourself" which is drilled into our heads that we must do in todays society to find our happiness, but what about self control?  What about restraint?  When do we learn those things?  Consideration for others?  I submit that these are crucial lessons that our future generation must learn and must learn early if they are to be successful and truly joyful.

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