I think American culture has given up good manners for something else. I have no idea what that something else is, but I do know it has happened. For example, some years ago I was crossing the street, in a cross walk, a cross walk that also had a lit sign that said “yield to pedestrians.” As I crossed that day a man in a Saab raced through the cross walk with me in the middle of it and just to put a point on it he stuck his hand up through his sun roof and gave me the finger. I had not even given him a bad look! True story.
When I was a child, as soon as Christmas was over my mother would sit me down at the dining room table and have me hand-write thank you notes for each and every gift I got. She did it because it was the right thing to do and because it would teach me something. It did. At the time it was expected that a gentleman would always hold a door for a lady. Anyone who was older than us was mister or misses, not to mention that we always called any uncle or aunt exactly that, their first name was only used after that notation. We even had an “aunt” and “uncle” who were unrelated to us but calling them Mr. and Mrs. Damon just did not seem right somehow. Plus, as a family, we were all really close. Those things seem to have gone out of fashion and I can find no good reason to explain why.
You always sent your parents and close relatives birthday cards, Christmas cards, and other cards as called for. Such things were not even discussed. They were simply expected. That seems to have fallen out of fashion too. How did that happen?
Men always took their hats off when they were indoors. It is not unusual these days to see men in restaurants wearing a hat. Why is that all right?
People seem to think their cell phone conversation is so important that their talking loudly on their cell in public places is all right, particularly restaurants and other places where people are gathered. Not only is it not all right, it is down right rude! If you must have the conversation, take it somewhere that the rest of the universe does not have to hear it.
Too many young parents feel no responsibility in keeping their young children quiet, at least relatively so, in places like restaurants. They also seem to think it all right that their child considers where ever they are to be their own personal playground and that running into people is an okay thing. It’s not! At least make an effort to control your children!
I have this old-fashioned belief that there is something to be said for men who act like gentlemen and women who act like ladies. What does that mean? It means that each person does his level best to always use the best manners possible. It means recognizing that the world is not all about us, and that not only do other people have a right to be there, but have a right to expect to be respected. People used to ask the question, “would you talk (or act) like that in front of your mother?” We need to ask that question now more than ever!