Manners Matter One

manners-matter-NAre Manners More Important than Laws?

By Ron Ross
I had a rude neighbor. He owned a motorcycle and loved to work on it in his garage. He would rev the engine as he tuned it then let it idle loudly for hours. Every time he came in or out of his driveway he would roar the noisy machine as loudly as possible with no regard for his neighbors.

Everyone hated the guy but he was oblivious about how unpopular he was. That is, until one of his closest neighbors called the cops. A very clever policeman talked the man into being a good neighbor by pointing out there are laws against loud noises in a residential area.

Should we need laws to control such behavior? Isn’t it natural to assume your neighbors do not want to be shocked out of their sleep at 1:00 AM when you come home from your favorite biker bar?

The answer is no, you cannot assume that everyone respects the space of other people. Fact is bad manners are common in today’s selfish world.

How many times have you heard someone talk loudly on their cell phone? Have you ever held the door open for someone as they slithered past you without mumbling a “Thank you!”? I have – many times

So, what do we need: more laws or better manners?

It was a British statesman of the 1700s who said, “Manners are of more importance than laws.” (Edmund Burke). I agree with Mr. Burke. After all, you cannot write a law that will force people to chew their food with their mouth closed or stop texting when you are talking to them.

For the next few weeks let’s talk about this thing called manners, deportment, good breeding, civility, courtesy, culture, dignity, etiquette, elegance, politeness, refinement, propriety, etc. I will describe bad manners and then provide suggestions how you and I can make some changes for the better. Ways we can be good examples first and then teach good manners to our children, friends, employees, and if necessary, our boorish neighbors.

What do you say to the person who does not hold open the door for a mom who has a bag of groceries in one hand while she pushes a stroller with the other? How should you help someone who trips and falls in a parking lot?

Is there a polite way to deal with those who constantly interrupt others with a loud voice and rude tone? What do you do or say to the person who is dressed inappropriately – like the lady who wears her pajamas to the grocery store or the guy who thinks everyone wants to see the color of his boxer shorts.

What I’m asking you (and me) to do is practice politeness, to be mannerly and kind to one another.

Would you mind if we talked about that for the next few weeks? I mean, I don’t want to be impolite and suggest that YOU are the problem; I just want to talk about it if you don’t mind. Thank you very much!

If you have a story about rudeness or boorish behavior I would like to hear about it. Email me your story:

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