Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What's Missing in Today's Society

How many of you have seen this.... a crowded bus or metro train... teenagers sprawled all over the seats. An elderly or disabled person struggles to get on the train and there are no available seats. Its obvious to anyone watching that they are in distress. But does anyone move, or offer their seat. Sometimes, yes. But rarely is that generous person under the age of 45.

Yes... this infuriates me! Who are the parents of these kids? They are probably the same parents who insisted that the toddler say please when asking for a cookie, but then didn't bother to teach the rest of those lessons. Holding doors. Standing for a lady. Shaking hands when introduced. All the little things that make life a little more pleasant for everyone we come into contact with. They are probably the same parents who cheat in HOV lanes, rush to fill that empty spot in front of them so another vehicle can't, run red lights, tailgate, and leave their exploded food all over the microwave in their office.

My feelings on this subject may seem a bit extreme to some... but take a good look around you and you may see my point.

Civilized behaviour isn't just about saying please and thank you, or even about turning your cell phone off in a movie theatre. It's acknowledging that we should all feel responsible for each other's feelings, comfort, and happiness. When we are trained to think of the effect of our behaviour on others, we make the world a better place, set responsible examples for our children, and, hopefully, make ourselves happier and less stressed on a daily basis. When we inconvenience ourselves in small ways in consideration of another person, the rewards are far greater than whatever avoiding that inconvenience would have been. Yes, I had to stand for 10 minutes so another could sit. Big deal. It felt good to be nice, and it made that little old man feel special. Definitely a greater reward than 10 minutes on my butt would have been.

As a parent, I've tried to teach my kids that we're all in this together. That it's their responsibility to look after the people they come in contact with on a daily basis, no matter how casually. I'll admit to having more success with my son than my daughter, due most likely to their entirely different dispositions, but I never give up trying. And frankly, even my daughter exhibits a level of maturity and manners that far exceeds the average teenager, thankfully. The most important thing to me is to talk to them about having civilized values, and to set a good example. Not to just lecture them, or remotely say "what do you say...." when they ask for a cookie. True manners come from making conscious choices, not from saying please and thank you out of habit.

For all of you out there who are confused and bewildered by the rudeness, aggression, and unpleasantness of your daily contact with 'society', think about what you are teaching your own children. What example you are setting for your co-workers, other drivers on the road, and, most importantly, your family.


Alta said...

I believe you are on the right track. I teach this to our children also. I was raised with manners, morals and values. I appreciate the fact that my parents were strick on me. Self dicipline is something else that we are teaching our boys.
I would like to put a link to your blog on my blog. I would also like a link placement on your blog if that is possible.

Anne said...

Thanks for the note. I would love to put a link on my site, but I'm having difficulty figuring out how to do it. I'll have to go back to the design, I guess.

Meanwhile, I've finally put up some new posts, so please share with your friends!