I sit and think…. a lot!
I was thinking about courtesy and how it began as a social necessity. Would you insult or treat callously a person that could matter in your life? One who was an employer, or who shared a property line with you? An official or a warrior that may or may not have a bad mood on?
Have you seen the gradual lessening of politeness in the world?
Is it because we rely on law to protect us from acts of rage or revenge? Or is it a lessening of self worth? Or perhaps a growing frustration of our own?
We are taught to respect others and to be polite. Some people leave these attributes at home when they are old enough to leave. Some keep them with them through-out life.
Is this not a moral issue with most? Or is it merely a get by and get on strategy?
Perhaps road rage has helped some people to re- assume politeness ….at least on the road.
Are you more likely to show apology when cutting someone off, or more likely to give them the finger and laugh it off.
Which one is likely to get you shot or banged into, in retribution?
Or are you merely the first or third person to fuel the growing frustration in another driver until it turns into anger and then rage and they reach their breaking point?
What form will it take? Will he attack the next one to add to his frustration? Or will he take it out at work or at home or at a local store? A simple sorry can defuse even several attacks on his nerves and emotions.
Would it make you feel good knowing that apologizing to someone has saved the life of another? It could you know.
The worse the world gets, the higher the background tension (that we don’t even recognize) gets. We unconsciously seek and appreciate any act of kindness or consideration even if we don’t realize we need it.
How much trouble is it to hold a door open if someone is behind you and let them in first? How much driving time will it cost you to let another car into your lane? What do you loose bay saying pardon me or after you. It is nothing …to you. But it may be the one thing that another needed, to feel better at that time and perhaps increase their ease or patience level. What a small price to pay to make the world a little easier to live in.
Do you know what started the hand shake? If you were clasping another’s weapon hand, with yours, you were both expressing an agreement to meet without violence. If you offered a ‘good day to you’ you were expressing a position of non-hostility. If someone said that to you, and you did not respond, it might mean that you had a problem situation on your hands. Or if you did not return another’s greeting, you might raise anger in them at an assumed insult.
Ask youths on the street what they do if they catch the eye of a stranger on the street. They always acknowledge them with a move of the head and get one back. Not to do so, is and act of challenge. In the wrong neighborhood it can get serious in consequence.
Call it a fear of each other… of the stranger.
As we became ‘more civilized’ and depended on society’s laws to protect us, it became a social convention only. Politeness was considered social, and rudeness was considered unsocial. A person without politeness was looked down upon with distaste. But the pressures in the world were minor at that time. The world was big and there was no anxiety about what was happening around us. But that changed, didn’t it?
Now we are 7 billion people on a small blue marble and violence is the daily news. Political fencing, local violence, wars that could escalate or terrorist threats… it is there. We can’t even trust the government or laws to protect us any more. Threat of police action doesn’t deter the mugger, rapist, or child molester, they do it anyway. And terrorist actions are not cause for shame but of pride of some sort, and retribution is looked on as a sort of stamp of recognition in the world. What kind of craziness are we living in right now?
If you have the concept that you can leave ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ or ‘excuse me’ out of your language because you are grown up now and don’t need that ‘kid stuff’…. then think again.
Your parents taught you that, because they knew, without realizing it, that you would need it when you grow up. It has nothing to do with being a good child but with growing into a person that can get along well when they grow up. It is not JUST a moral issue, it is now once again an imperative in a growingly violent world.
As they say…”it will get worse before it gets better.”
Politeness has come full circle from personal survival, to socially expected, and back to personal survival. Fear of each other.
So wipe the dust off your early lessons and start using them on a daily basis. It may save someone’s life… even yours.
Courtesy, in short, is a gift of kindness we can give freely without cost. Yet it can make a great difference in your life or someone else’s.
Think about it.
And then do it!