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Manners Maintain Fairness, Repsect

This week someone asked me if I thought that having manners was still important. "It is to me!" I said. I grew up at a time when manners were a measure of character. "He has great manners. She is a well-mannered young woman."

I have to confess that I get an unpleasant feeling when I see men sitting at a table eating with their hats on their head or, worse, when they place it on top of the table rather than on the seat or the floor. I am a golfer and I find it very rude when a man does not take off his cap to shake hands at the end of the game. I notice that even many of the young professionals on TV fail to remove their cap when concluding their game.

I think it is worth taking a look at the reason for using manners. Things like hat removal show respect for others. In my day, men also removed their hats when in the company of an elder. As well, an older person was always referred to by children and young adults as "Mister" or "Mrs." It was a bit formal perhaps but it was respectful.

Manners can assist us to maintain fairness and respect in many situations. For instance, a well-mannered individual would never cut in front of others when standing in line. The other day my husband and I were waiting to pay at the grocery store. It was busy and the line was long.

A clerk called us over to the till. We were nearly run down by two young people behind us who tried to get to the till first. Fortunately, the cashier wasn't having any of that and waved them back. They appeared quite baffled by her actions.

These days there seem to be no guidelines about how early or how late one can call another individual. There used to be a nine o'clock rule in place that everyone knew and followed. If you didn't get your call in before 9 p.m. you were out of luck. The same applied to the morning- nothing before 9 a.m. unless you had an agreement to do so. This was an awareness that people were relaxing in the evening and getting ready to leave the house in the morning. Now cell phones ring 24/7 and no place is off-limits. I am constantly privy to the loud unceasing conversations of people who must stay connected to all of their friends and relations no matter what the cost to others.

Have you ridden on public transit lately? I had that pleasure in Vancouver recently. The Sky Train was great but it was packed. The seats filled up quickly by the faster more agile younger passengers. I stood leaning against another older woman with whom I formed a tacit agreement to hold each other up as the train swayed and jerked along its way.

I am sure that manners are on the list for many parents. I still hear the odd please and thank you hanging in the air. And I have seen parents prompting their child or youth to show respect.

But manners do seem to be less and less part of modern life.