The Importance of Manners

Etiquette - image thanks to  famous2.all.co.uk

Etiquette - image thanks to famous2.all.co.uk

Something that I am very conscientious of is manners.  It is a central part of the way I interact with others and it is something I work hard to instil into my Sons.

I cannot speak for other societies, because I don’t live in them, but for the Australian Society, I have noticed a massive decline in the use of manners.  There are certainly many people who value manners here and speak out about the use of them, like well know Journalist Ita Buttrose, but for the most part, common courtesy has been laid away.  Maybe  it started with the fear that if someone knew your last name, they could look you up in the phone book and come to your house and ‘get ya’.  The the idea of first name basis moved into the Hospitals and Nurses were no longer given the title of ‘Sister’.

Something most disturbing to me, happened somewhere in the 90’s…A friend of mine’s Son was going to a High School where all the teachers and the Principal were on a first name basis with the kids!  This was a Christian High School, now; I would have thought that a religious school would have kept up the manners, but no.  It was gone.

Then more erosion came through, with Road Rage appearing with Drivers and people beginning to forget to even say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’, let alone teaching their children such ‘old fashioned’ techniques of interaction!

Well I just can’t stand it.  Call me old fashioned, but in my Spiritual Ethics, I am someone who has manners.  I say ‘May I’ and ‘Thank You’ and ‘Please’ and I call strangers Sir or Madam.  I was brought up to use an adult’s title when I addressed them and so I make my children do the same.

It never ceases to amaze me how, when I am introduced to a person, their last name is kept a secret and when I want to introduce my children to them, I have to ask and sometimes insist that they give me their last name, so as my sons can address them appropriately and with the respect they deserve.

One of my Brother’s friends complained when I introduced him to my son as ‘Mr Davis…he said, I am not Mr Davis, that is my Father…he’s Mr Davis.’  I said, ‘Mate, you are over 21 and you are an Adult, this is the way I am raising my sons and to them YOU are Mr Davis.  Take the respect, one day you’ll be as old as your Dad.’  He thought about it and he agreed, in fact, I think it made him feel good to be put back into a position of being respected by children.

"From Refresh Your Table Manners", by Luella Cuming, 1964 Family Circle. kitschy-kitschy-coo.com

Image thanks to kitschy-kitschy-coo.com

If you ever dine with me, you will know I am the ‘Manners Nazi’.  I have a real dislike for a lack of self control around food.  You make your Dog sit and wait before he eats, so it is only polite to wait for everyone to be seated and served before you start also.  At restaurants, we wait until everyone has been served before we eat.  There is nothing worse than being famished and having to watch someone else eat in front of you.  So we just don’t do it.  If the Restaurant is taking ages and is staggering the food, we ask for the first plates to be kept hot.

When driving, a simple wave to the driver behind you, who let you merge into traffic, goes a long way.  In fact, easing back to let another person in is a big one.  It is only polite.  You are in a line of traffic and you’ll get there eventually, so why do you have to be first?

I should write a book on manners, I am so big on them, because I like to feel that I am respected by others.  I like to feel I am worthy and that I am given time.  So, of course, I am going to pass that feeling on to everybody I interact with.  I am not perfect; there may be the odd occasion when I slip up.  But I feel it is only right to then own up and apologise for making an ass of myself.

As I’ve thought more on this subject, I have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons manners have declined, is because Humans are beginning to realise that we are all inter connected.  Humans have for some 20 years now, become more aware that each and every one of us is made up of the same mould.  For example, we no longer up hold Royalty as being like demigods; they are seen as people who hold an ‘office’.

In Australia especially, there is just no discernible class system.  We are more categorised by the way we act and hold ourselves and dress, not by how much money we have or by what family we come from.

As minds mingle and connect over the Internet, more and more boundaries are being torn down.  But we still need to interact on a physical level in the street and in the home.  We still need to be able to co-operate and to communicate effectively as a species.  Manners allow us to do that and they give children the boundaries they needed to aspire to be an adult worthy of respect.

Who doesn’t like being respected?  Being a person of manners starts with respecting yourself, then it will be easy to respect others in kind.  Think about it, how often to you experience good manners during your daily activities with others?  You can begin to change it around, with a smile, a wave, a thank you and a ‘may I please’…You’ll feel all the better for it.

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