Perhaps I should consider it a bad omen that while I was searching my favourite public domain image library for an image of people being polite or kind, the collection couldn’t find anything, and so instead of “polite” went to “plolitical” and came up with many images of angry protesters making rude gestures. It seems to be a dangerously ironic summary of the past decade.
The art of good etiquette is falling by the wayside. People don’t believe in being nice or polite as much as they used to. In many circles, having good manners is seen as a sign that you are a conformist, that you lack a revolutionary spirit, and as such are somehow supporting an evil, oppressive culture when you ought to be tearing it down.
I have had people mock me for taking women out on dates rather than go for casual hook-ups. I’ve had women insult me for holding the door open to let them pass. I’ve had people snarl at me for refusing to get sucked into a shouting match. And you know what, I’ve never wanted to deal with those people ever again. And neither does anyone else. There is a quote that I think sums this up very nicely.
Your actions speak so loud that I cannot hear what you say.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I do believe that actions speak louder than words, in fact that will be my theme as I write my letters to you today. And in the case of the kin of protesters, “revolutionaries”, radicals, and fashionistas who are deliberately rude, their actions speak loud and clear. They don’t respect you, or anyone else. They are bullies who want to tell the rest of the world how to think and act, because they can. At best other people are a tool to help them secure their place in history, or help them act out against whatever authority figure is currently standing in for their parents – or otherwise someone to shock and abuse in the name of getting their “message” across.
If they really cared about changing the world, rather than bullying people, they would care about getting other people to cooperate with them. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, as they say, and you can do more with a thousand voices in unity than you can do with a handful of angry thugs.
So pay attention to other people’s manners, and their respectfulness. If they are happy to tell you that “good manners are for sheep” and “well-behaved people rarely make history” or worse yet, if they tell you not to be an “old fogey” or a “square” (yeah, those words are comically old even now, but people still use them), then know that they don’t care about you so much as standing out and grabbing attention.
On the other hand, a person who displays respect first by showing good manners, and second by respect in his dealings with you, and third by being warm and authentic while he deals with you is someone that you can trust to mean what he says. And if he wants to make a change, you can rest assured that he actually wants to create a real change, and not just to feel important, because he is looking to win over other people to help him make it happen.
Good manners are a sign that tells you that the other person is serious about you as a human being. They know you have feelings, and they know you are free to choose to listen to them, help them, ignore, them, and hinder them And knowing that you have a choice, and that they are not simply entitled to your help or your attention, they choose to engage you in a way that makes that choice easy for you.
And if you want the attention of others, you should remember the same. Your good manners are your promise: If you listen to what i have to say, I promise you that it will be worth your time to hear it.