So, you may be wondering how the decline of courtesy works with this month's theme, "Health and Wellness.” Well, without letting to much of the cat out of the bag, this article will deal, in small measure, with the health and wellness of our nation.
But first, can we talk? It never ceases to amaze me, how rude people can be (without even realizing that they are being rude.) I know that this has happened to you. You are on the elevator; the car reaches your floor; the door opens and there is someone standing right in front of the doors in the middle of the exit/entry. What, you wonder, are they thinking? Did they not realize that people get off elevators in addition to getting on? Did they even, for one second, think about anybody but themselves?
In New York City, (and probably everywhere else, as well) it is a common custom to stand, single file, on the right side of the escalator so that people in a hurry (and who isn't in a hurry these days?) can walk up and down. The other day a couple of cops (I use the pejorative "cops" because this is not about how "the policeman is your friend"), got onto the escalator, in tandem, chatting all the while about football or some such and then, as they got off, paused at the top of the escalator, I guess to get their bearings (causing me and others behind me, to dance sideways to avoid plowing into them. I guess we all know that plowing into New York's Finest would have been the height of discourtesy.
New York is a tourist Mecca. They come at all times from all over the known world. I don't know how they behave in, say Sweden, but in NY, if you stroll along 5 abreast on the sidewalk, gazing up agape at all the tall buildings, you tend to piss people off. Might as well be holding hands chanting "Red rover, red rover, I dare Johnny to come over."
Lest you think that this is becoming a rant about minor annoyances, I do have a point to make. These are really minor breaches of civility, but, I think that you all know the poem that begins, "For want of a nail, the shoe was lost,” and proceeds to the ending "the Kingdom was lost". Things seem small in the detail but loom large in the aggregate.
Not a day goes by without some nut taking his legally obtained AK 47 and shooting some several people that he may not even know. I'm not talking about the Tsarnaev brothers here. I'm talking about Columbine and Sandy Hook, about disturbed young men (it always seems to be young men) with access to assault rifles and no sense or concern at all about the execrable criminal acts they intend to perform.
When I was young we used to think the Southern practice of saying "Yes, Ma’am" and "Yes, Sir" was archaic and silly. What I didn't understand then but do now is that the simple act of displaying good manners sensitizes us to the feelings of others, and, I believe, softens one's approach to our fellows in general.
I believe, in my heart and in my mind, that if these nihilistic "shooters" had been raised holding the doors and coats for others and were taught to practice what are still commonly thought of as good manners, they would have integrated better into society and would have been far less likely to shoot up a classroom or movie theater.
So, health and wellness. We'd be a much healthier (and safer) nation if we would just learn to practice good manners.
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The Decline of Courtesy
By Dave Bresler