Reader Opinion — Whatever happened to a little common courtesy?


Can someone please explain to me what happened to civility in our city, state and nation? Once upon a time there was a great nation where people were courteous and respectful of each other. People enthusiastically smiled, waved and talked to each other. People cared for and watched out for one another. Now we have “progress” in the form of a technology that has forever altered the speed and reach of our cold, heartless and clearly less personal communication style.

People are just as quick with vulgar language and less-than-kind hand gestures than they are to hold a door open for the aged and disabled. Good manners used to be taught to our young but now rudeness is as common amongst them as it is the aged population. What has caused them to lose what once was our social mores? They had it but now seem to have lost it. If someone is not taught how to behave properly than I can partially understand it but when the elderly accept it as the new “norm” then that to me is a sign of society in decline. Our once great nation is now in rapid decay.

Our highways now look like raceways and free-for-alls. Speed limits are now optional. It seems to be as they say in Montana, “the sky is the limit.” Following distances are a thing of the past. If someone is in your way, just cut them off. Oh, and be sure to use some colorful hand signals, wave a gun or knife, and use shout outs when you are aggressively passing too as part of the new “festivities.”

What happened to “May I have?” and “Could I please get?” when speaking with clerks in businesses? It seems the new norm now is to demand a pound of meat from the butcher; a container of potato salad from the deli staff, or a check cashed with a bank teller with “Give me” and “I want” rather than use respect, kindness and good manners. Why have “Please” and “Thank you” become obsolete words in our day to day lives?

A child’s societal values begin at home. All too often in our decaying society, parents demand that the schools impart these values. Wake up parents! You birthed these children, not the schools. If you as a parent do not teach your child respect, kindness, empathy, courtesy and generosity at home, you are the culprit for what your family will harvest later in that child’s life. Your child’s social skills, and for that matter society’s social skills, are an accurate future indicator of his or her success. Even amongst the poorest of the poor during my 32-year education career, in my travels across the state I met families whose children had impeccable manners so don’t tell me a lack of finances correlates into bad manners. This critical issue transcends all socioeconomic classes.

The costs of bad behavior/incivility to our society are huge as they impact our homes, schools, economy, health and all branches of government. Have you watched the presidential and state campaigns of late? If we have any hope of reversing the further decline of incivility in our community and nation than we must begin aggressively teaching our children how to speak respectfully to their peers and elders, and we must as adults speak respectfully to each other in our day to day lives. Vulgarity and rudeness should have no place, not be allowed; in a thriving, vibrant and civil society. We must establish new norms soon.

Once upon a time, there was a great nation that decided that bad behavior had no place within its borders and it was restored to the grandeur within it borders and once again was seen as a role model for the rest of the world.

Alan D. Rammer is a resident of Montesano.