Manners does make a Man or a Woman. It also makes us who we are as individuals. Without which we will not have a foundation to stand on. Generations that have preceded us had mannerism instilled within their cultures. The basics of manners were taught in schools by teachers and these were carried home by students to be applied at home and within each society in which they lived. Parents were very strict in enforcing them. As a result of this,Children did behave appropriately at all times both in pubic and at home. They did respect their elders by addressing them as Mr. so and so or Mrs. so and so and not by their names. Punishment was mild but swift and it did convey the right message to the child. It did nip the problem in the bud and stopped it from progressing in its tracks. Hence all unacceptable acts were never repeated in most cases. It was also this basic habit that was followed without any second thoughts and it was considered polite to say good morning, good afternoon, good evening to anyone and everyone whom you met. When an elderly person talked everyone listened in silence. There was no talking back. This was unheard of and was never tolerated. We were taught to look in the eye while talking to someone. Anything other than that would be considered rude. “Please” and “Thank you” were the most commonly used words back in the day. Curse words anywhere were unheard of. Everyone respected everyone at least outwardly.
Clocks back then did have some respect. Most people did respect the clock. They respected each others time as well. People showed up to work on time and left on time. People did value the character of a person, honesty, integrity, punctuality, sincerity, dedication, and true friendship over any other metric of measurement. Any misunderstandings were settled then and there. Pencils were sharpened, pens were filled with ink, minds were kept sharp, calculations were done in the mind, books had wrappers covering them and geometry sets helped transform drawings into real life architectural marvels. We had created our own games from nothing, played in the dirt, got soaked in the rain, climbed trees, got bitten by mosquitoes, made our own fishing line, walked barefoot, made and flew our own kites, and walked in swamps that were infested with snakes. Those were the days when we had seen nothing materialistic because we never even knew those existed. But we lived in close knit families bound by lots of love, sacrifice, happiness and caring. We were happy that we had a roof over our heads, food to eat, and a new shirt and pant on our birthday. We literally watched each others back and attended to each and everyone’s needs. This was that bygone era. It’s very hard to fathom that experience and understand it without living it nor walking that walk in that same shoes.
Fast forward to today, elder abuse is on the rise starting right at home, nursing homes and in Health care institutions. We hear about it in the news all the time. Parents are afraid of their kids, teachers are afraid of their students, employers are afraid of employees and doctors are afraid of their patients. What is wrong with this picture? Something does not seem right morally and ethically. Where have we gone wrong and why are we still heading in the wrong direction even though we have realized it a long time ago? Are we afraid to take our stand and do what is right? We are in fact living in a stressed up World. But who is to blame? We are. We have put ourselves into this mess and do not know how to get out of it. So we are following the easy route, which is to follow the herd and go with the flow. There is no commitment of time nor relationships. Divorce rates are on the rise in each and every continent on Earth. People are changing their partners analogous to changing their shirts.
There was a time when we gave up our seat to an elderly person, a pregnant woman or even a physically challenged person. We gave up this seat voluntarily not to sympathize their plight but as a sign of respect. Today we need to have rules in place just to make someone follow it. This is really sad. We respected our teachers with at most sincerity and never disrespected them in any way. At the same time they were brutal at times which had instilled these characters that have helped us with discipline, punctuality, manners and in respecting others to this day. They have in fact molded us to who we are today, as a model citizen. Children are like clay. They can be shaped and molded to be a productive citizen and who in turn would make his or her contribution to society. But we seem to be going in the wrong direction to meet adversity head on by not preparing our kids adequately to face the real World by teaching them the basic manners. By they not learning it nor following it, the next upcoming generation may face a lot of setbacks such as a lack of trust and respect for each other, may serve as bad role models to their subsequent generations etc. During the developmental process and soon thereafter, kids learn by using all their senses especially the see and do portion of it. Soon they start imitating their parents on what they do, then they follow what the teachers tell them to do and in the real World they are following what is expected of them by society. Hence we are being molded throughout life by external forces that are at work.
Some of the notable points that may help us do our part in minding our own manners and which may also help us in reshaping ourselves and others through our actions.
- Respecting others and expecting the same from others. Respect everyone regardless.
- Wish everyone you meet, Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening or Good night depending on the time of day. It does not cost us any thing and MAKE SURE TO SMILE ALWAYS. This may help put a smile on someone else face.
- Saying the Words Please and Thank you as a sign of appreciation.
- Giving up your seat for someone in need.
- Respecting the elderly. They are a treasure trove of experience and wisdom. We could learn a thing or two from them and they may even appreciate us for listening to them. Because no one does. Not even their own kids.
- Giving others the right of way while driving. We may lose a second or two. But someone else may need to save that SAME second to save someones else life.
- Being considerate to others. This is the least we could do.
- Using words carefully & wisely. Think before you say something because once the words slip off your lips you cannot put it back into the box. Words do have the enormous power to hurt sometimes. Avoid obscenity at all times. It will only take us downhill. Learn to listen more, digest and then learn from what the other person has to SAY. Speaking less may help us to open up our ears and listen more.
- Silent treatment: Not recommended. It does hurt both parties with each party not knowing actually what the problem is. Talk openly if there is a problem and nip it in the bud stage. Prolonging it only makes matters worse that will strain a perfectly healthy relationship.
- Do not hold grudges: It eats the owner from inside out without he or she ever realizing it. Ego, greed, vengeance, hatred etc are all considered excess baggage in my view. All of them may be living inside you right now rent free. Learn to let go and live Life. Lighten up by shedding them off. In the end, all of us do end up in the same place. So keep an open mind and talk in private to settle any misunderstandings peacefully instead of carrying it to your grave.
- Respecting the TIME: Clocks do exist for a reason. To keep time. We need to respect others time and others need to respect our time. This is mutual. It is considered very impolite and rude to walk in late to any event. Food does get cold and latecomers are frowned upon. Don’t keep people waiting.
- Commitment: If we promise someone something at a particular date, day and a time, we need to keep our side of the bargain and honor it to maintain that relationship. Many relationships are lost at a moments notice for some simple reason. Do not become one of them. “Do what you say and say what you will do”.
- Change is inevitable in anything we do. We cannot change others by force but we can change ourselves for the betterment of all. Trying to change others by mending to make that change to our liking will definitely backfire. Because each of us are very different in our own ways and each of us is an individual being with our own individual ideologies and thoughts.
- Don’t take any relationship for granted. Relationship is a two way street and must stay mutual in order to stay that way. It is bound by trust, sacrifice, respect and love for one another. It’s like a partnership and it has to be 50-50 for them to reach the finish line together.
- We do not want to be the last man standing nor to be the richest man in the graveyard. Most of us have been chasing money all our lives. This is not all what life is about. So when do we have plans to LIVE that Life we are working so hard for. Why don’t we live that Life NOW? Most of us may never make it to retirement, the so called Golden years. In my conversations with seniors, they call it the rustic years. They say there is nothing Golden about it.
- See and talk to each other at Eye level. Never look down on anyone. People are always comfortable in eye level conversations. One person standing and the other one sitting wouldn’t do the trick.
- Hold the door open for someone. They may do the same for you some day.
- Helping out at a food bank. This may help us respect food, prevent food waste and not to take it for granted.
- Help someone somewhere. Anywhere. Community service or volunteer.
- Keep learning for a Lifetime. Every day is a NEW day. It gives us a second chance to correct our mistakes, learn something new and make the NEW DAY matter. Knowledge is meant to be shared. Share it with others. It’s not meant to be kept inside your head or in a dark closet. By sharing we learn from each other and both of us win by gaining something. We never lose. Most people fail to share any and do take that knowledge to their graves. In that process it benefits no one. Keep your brain cells stimulated and fired up. Become Life Long learners.
Minding our own manners and sharing the respect for each other may take each of us to a whole new level of consciousness and inner peace. Manners have been around for centuries and preserved through various civilizations for a simple reason. To RESPECT each other and to help in self preservation. Our manners may be talking to others in silence behind our back but in the front this will help us in holding our heads high, and our chin up by upholding our self esteem, self respect and our SELF. Hopefully both of us can bring back this lost trend before it becomes extinct forever JUST by doing our part.