Manners: Are we better or worse these days?

Are manners dying

When I was growing up I remember always being taught to hold the door open for the person behind me, say please and thank you, be patient and wait your turn, always address an adult by Mr./Mrs. <surname> or Aunt/Uncle <name>, always rsvp your attendance even if it’s for a weekly group, and if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.  To this day I believe these actions all add up to being polite and respectful, and I plan on teaching my son to do the same.  But in today’s society are we still polite?  Do we still have manners?

I know I’m not the only one who has been confronted with rude people on an all too frequent basis.  How many times have you had the door close in your face because the person in front of you did not hold it open?  How many times have you been called something not so nice just because you do not share someone else’s opinion?  And how often are you left waiting for a please or a thank you?

It seems like today people are increasingly more self involved and look out for themselves before, or even without, considering their effect on others.  Today we have online bullying, Halloween house decorations that actually scare and make little kids cry (and no, the homeowners have no intentions of taking them down), inventions like the “knee defender” that stop the airline seat in front of you from reclining (because of course your comfort is more important than that of your neighbours), and children who address adults by their first name.  I’ve heard every reason for defending all of these behaviours, but until now I am still not convinced.  I think there is something to be said for considering those around you, and being respectful of everyone.  Just because we don’t agree with someone, or that they simply rub us the wrong way, is not a reason to belittle them or call them names.  We don’t have to like everyone to get along with them.  If you don’t like someone then don’t ask them out for a cup of coffee, but be polite when you interact with them and leave it at that.

As we try to teach our children to be kind we must remember that they learn more from our example than from our instructions, if our kids see us being kind they too will grow up to be kind, polite adults.  One of the best lessons my parents taught me has been to be mindful of others and to treat people the way I would like to be treated.

What do you think?  Is being polite becoming increasingly rare?

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