Common Courtesy

Graduations create an electrifying atmosphere that radiates hope swarming amid the buzz and commotion of proud parents and friends wrapped up in the moment. They celebrate graduates at the threshold of their lives. Happiness is rooted in dreams and passions of making the world a better place; however, someone has to tell these young enthusiasts that without common courtesy, which goes hand in hand with kindness, sympathy and consideration, and which is the basis to the root of their dreams, their reward will be non-gratifying. My observation comes from a recent afternoon when I was in my car at an intersection and noticed a long line of others waiting to enter the flow of traffic. I signaled to the driver of the first car waiting to enter the flow of traffic to go ahead and that it was okay to move in. Six cars entered the intersection. I was doing them a favor. All were young drivers, and it wasn’t until the sixth driver who was middle aged who smiled and made a gesture of appreciation. I enjoyed a glow of pleasure from the last car, a gratification. It was a little thing, but it represented something bigger. It represented a short supply of common courtesy among the young enthusiastic “future leaders.” Common courtesy, not too long ago, was a fundamental part of our society that oiled the wheels of social interaction. Children were taught their Ps and Qs and to respect their elders, to say please and thank you, to open doors and stand aside on escalators, to give right of way, to not interrupt, to apologize, to have face to face conversations at dinner tables, to have eye contact, to be punctual,… in brief, to be considerate to those around them. This ingrained attitude was reflected in young adults that showed courtesy and respect to others, whether they believed those others worthy of such or not. Today, somewhere amid the focus on being politically correct and egocentric entitlement, youth have lost the most basic of common courtesy.
As I look upon graduates and their social skills I realize it would be foolish of me to hope that consideration and kindness, gratitude and compassion are the ingredients that will right all the wrongs, keep peace and heal wounds while trying to guide the generations with all their worldly good intentions. What it really comes down to is the value of example. We can either be a positive example or a negative one, and unfortunately, because goodness doesn’t make news as sensational or interesting as does calamity or catastrophe, the negative publicity attracts more of the same through repetition and imitation. If repetition and imitation is the key, then the onus is on our generation, the generation of parents and grandparents, to communicate kindness and compassion and common courtesy. If we are to be remembered as the conscionable and the caring people of our generation, if we are truly concerned by all the issues of our humanity that have made today’s generation achieve its potential, if we indeed treasure the efforts of our generation and not remain muted to the scarcity of common courtesy, then our chance for contagion of the right stuff will not diminish. These days, I see parents who are afraid to speak their minds because someone will think they are too orthodox. These days I see parents who identify more and more with the material, and less and less with common courtesy standards. These days I see young parents who run around over involving their children in sports, music, art, dance, academia all at the same time while ignoring the most basic standards of common courtesy. Trust me, twenty years from now, your worth as a parent will not be measured by the number of activities your children were involved in, or their SAT scores or their trophies. It will be measured by the depth of their character and the way they live their lives in relation to the rest of humanity. It will be measured by the strength of the influence of the parent who taught by example the rules of common courtesy. Courtesy and consideration shown towards others cannot be legislated. They need to be taught. If we wish to improve the society of today, we need to re-instigate common courtesy as a major component of our social interaction. We cannot pretend to be interested in people and their hopes and aspirations if we do not put above all else the practice of courteous and considerate behavior toward others. Only then will we be able to proudly stand by our sons and daughters and grandchildren with confidence that they will guide the destiny of nations with innate humility and kind consideration.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Common Courtesy

  1. bronxboy55 says:

    I think the problem is that as the people who exhibit those values become a smaller and smaller minority, the accompanying behaviors will become more of a liability. Your example of driver courtesy is a perfect one. If I let the next car in and the one after that lets me in, things go smoothly. But if thirty-seven cars move in ahead of me, sooner or later, I’m going to force my way in — and the next time, I won’t be so nice. That seems to already be happening in just about every area of life. How do we get the snowball rolling in the other direction?

    Well written post.I share your hopes, but I’m not optimistic at the moment.


  2. yeran says:

    So true, Silva. Teaching by example is the best way to teach. Let’s be optimistic.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s