By Kristian McAdams – Cougar News Contributor
Once upon a time, there was a generation that had not only been educated in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but in a common, fundamental skill needed in order to live among the human race; this was known as, the art of bearing behavior. Manners are now something we only see in fairytales; no longer do we see strapping young gentlemen (as they were once referred to) perform the art of standing in the presence of a woman, or the tipping of a hat in passing, or even the opening of a door for another. Nor do we see the eloquent mannerisms young women used to be known for; women have come out of the roaring twenties and revolutionary fifties like a mixed batch of cookies. Meanwhile, the famous words “please” and “thank you” are hanging on by a thread these days. With the rapid decrease in manners due to new forms of popularity that have risen, and more importantly, the ways in which parents have chosen to raise this generation’s new assortment of minds, today’s society is witness to the loss of common courtesy.
Everywhere you go, you see soccer-mom vans rolling along with bumper stickers that claim my child is an honor student. One day I will attach a bumper sticker to my car that claims, “My child made a difference in someone’s life today.” While brains are an important thing to have, they don’t mean much when they are used for a “me first” mentality. There’s a famous saying: “It’s nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.”
Today, the “me first” mentality has set in, if you disagree, just look around. Daily you encounter road rage, impatient and seemingly hostile customers, and then there are the new, technologically savvy individuals who find that looking at the screen of their gadgets is more effective than looking at someone’s face.
The golden rule has shifted from, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” to seemingly, “Above all else, please thyself.” Of course, it is no question that this new motto has evolved thanks to new strategies brought by the new generation of parents. According to the website RudeBusters.com, who quoted from a study by Bozell WorldWide/US News &World Report Civility in America in 1991, “Statistics prove that more than 8 in 10 of us, both with kids and without kids, agree that bad parenting—the failure to install good behavior in kids—is the major cause of bad manners. While on the other hand, ABC News revealed in a 1999 poll that 73% of Americans claim that manners are worse than they were twenty to thirty years ago. With numbers like these already at a peak twenty years ago, it is scary to think of what they have risen to today.
Manners are like honeybees, it may seem that a honeybee is an obnoxious insect, but without them we would surely perish. Without bees to replenish our various sources of vegetation, our source of oxygen would soon run out. Manners are similar – with manners we perform small courteous tasks for certain individuals who are then emotionally affected one way or another by our actions. Without manners society will surely begin to tear itself apart.
To illustrate, two friends of mine were out running errands, and they decided to stop for a bite to eat. They finally sat down to enjoy the meal they had ordered when they noticed a couple in their late seventies to early eighties walk out of the deli followed by a man and his son who looked to be about age twelve. The father then began to shove and assault the older gentleman claiming that when inside the fellow had stepped on his son’s foot and never cared to apologize. The older gentleman and his wife claimed they had apologized, however, both the father—and twelve year old son—continued to verbally and physically assault the couple. As the older couple gave up walking to their car, the father and son followed continuing to hound the poor couple with the small boy cursing up at them like a sailor. As the situation worsened patrons were pulling out their phones for a 911 call. With the help of a manager, the couple was finally able to leave.
It is situations such as these that we find ourselves witness to the loss of manners and common decency. Will this tale end happily-ever-after, the pen is in our hands.