The Death of Manners Essay
….we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of an old friend. Courtesy was with us for many years; always standing ready to ease awkward situations, release tension, and provide for the smooth functioning of society.
We were shocked to learn of the brutal murder of Courtesy at the hands of a gang of ruffians by the names of Rudeness, Selfishness, Disrespect, Hatred, and Impatience.
Internment of a Beloved Friend
It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we recognize the now almost universal membership in these gangs, and the near impossibility of the murderers ever seeing justice. These are not your ordinary hoodlums who can be apprehended, jailed and tried in a court of law.
Nay, these are gangs of the mind. They are the crimes of self-serving interests. They are the result of children who have been allowed to do as they choose; who have not been taught proper forms of address, respect for others or their property.
Courtesy used to hold doors open for the frail or elderly, or for anyone who had their hands full. Courtesy used to ‘beg pardon’ upon bumping into someone in public, or realizing he was in someone’s way.
Courtesy said “Please,” and “Thank you,” and did not expect anything in return.
When Courtesy went calling, he waited to be offered a candy or snack. Just because a candy dish or snack jar was on display, he did not make assumptions and help himself.
The New Way
Since the death of Courtesy, people have begun acting as if they are each the only inhabitant on the planet.
No one seems to realize, as they stand gawking at the wares on store shelves, that they and their cart are blocking the entire aisle so no one else can get through.
People race past on the street in their cars. “Me first!” their actions say, as they zoom past impatiently. How often have you seen this same impatient driver stopped just a car ahead of you at the very next red light? That impatient burst of speed gained them little, and cost them an extra burst of fuel. But, they just had to be first.
Courtesy used to stop or pause and let another driver into the traffic stream. No more. Heaven forbid anyone should get in front of the all-important “me!“
Courtesy was aware of others at all times, and did not get stuck in the egotistical “all about me” stage of a 2-year-old child. He would never have even considered having a cell phone turned on during a stage performance or a movie. He would not have had to be asked via a general announcement, to turn it off. It would have already been off, or left at home.
Neither would he have walked all around the grocery store carrying on a phone conversation the entire time. What is all that important to discuss, that one cannot even go shopping without being on the phone, distracted, and unaware of other shoppers? Nothing, that’s what! If an emergency occurs, and the phone call was delivering information about said emergency, Courtesy would thank the caller, hang up, and leave the store and the shopping for another time as he went to tend to the problem.
Courtesy used to stop and help someone pick up their belongings if dropped. Now, the gangs just ignore the event, or point and snicker. A request for assistance brings a sassy snarl from these gangs, or outright laughter. What has gone wrong?
There are yet a few who still believe in manners and helpfulness; who do not shove others out of the way; who wait their turn patiently. Let us reward them with a sincere “thank you” when we are the recipients of their caring concern.
There is a rumor going around that says our friend Courtesy may yet be revived. If enough people consciously think about it, and remember that there are others sharing this world, it may not be too late.
The ambulance is on the way, but it is up to each of us to be sure it is the ambulance and not the coroner’s wagon that arrives. We need to apply the electrodes now, to shock Courtesy back to the living, and do it quickly. The electrodes are random acts of kindness and selflessness.
We do so miss our dear friend, Courtesy. Let us all be aware of our actions, and begin in the re-training of our young–the younger, the better–in the ways of Courtesy and Kindness. We may yet be able to bring back our dear friend.