Eularee Smith
Writer & Educator

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What Happened to Manners?

I have had several comments on my last post from readers asking what happened to manners. Being in a family of seven kids, and raised by a Marine, we were taught from the moment we could speak, that you said "Yes, ma'am" or "No, sir". The words Ok and Yeah, were not a part of our vocabulary. 

We sent thank you cards after receiving a gift. Our elders deserved respect and if they said jump, the only response was how high. It was a gentler time, when men removed their hats in a restaurant, opened doors for ladies and children never called an adult by their first name.

It amazes me everyday, how the first reaction people have to life is anger or blame. Yesterday, I was driving in close quarters in a quaint boutique shopping and restaurant area. It is one way with a circular traffic pattern around a water fountain. I was there to pick up a child, so I was driving slow and cautiously. The traffic backed up and I was left halfway through a crosswalk. No way to go forward or back. A couple decided to walk through anyway, and rather than wait or go around, the gentleman (speaking as my Daddy taught me, not as a description of his behavior) slapped my car and yelled obscenities. Really? 

On a daily basis, I see and hear people use foul language and physical altercation, rather than being amused at the trials of living in a society where people must co-exist. Is it that difficult to not make it all about YOU? What happened to being thoughtful, kind, use manners, and generally try to get along. Why is our first reaction that the other person is out to get YOU.

Manners take practice. I have found that in the most irritating moments, like the customer service person, reading a script saying they understand how you must feel, a simple Yes ma'am calms me down enough to approach the conversation as if I was not a victim and they were not the perpetrator. Manners have a way of calming the spirit, reaching a more civil conversation and more often than not a satisfying resolution. Hitting someone's car, or yelling obscenities, has yet to prove to me that person is rational or civil or that I want to engage with them on any level except to see them in my rear view mirror.

If we want our children to become better citizens, parents, co-workers, even God forbid, politicians, it truly begins with manners. Giving up a seat, opening a door, a thank you for opening the door, or showing gratitude for those that do the work they do with little or no thanks (nurses, teachers, janitorial, even customer service assistance), makes our world just a little better to live in. We will pray together as a society when violent shootings take place in our communities. Is it too much to expect courtesy and manners to follow that reverence? 

Let's start a civil conversation about manners. A simple solution to a complex problem? Perhaps, but practice makes perfect.

When the power of love, overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.  Jimi Hendrix 


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