Springingtiger's Blog

Remember Manners?
May 27, 2013, 22:09
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism, Justice, Politics, social media | Tags: , , , ,

Recently a friend of mine was verbally abused by some young boys, and it occurred to me that some of the changes in attitudes since my youth have not been improvements. I think one of the most obvious and unfortunate changes has been the decline of courtesy and mutual respect, of which those foul mouthed young boys are just a symptom.

There are those who will say, quite rightly, that respect must be earned. My only problem with that is that what is respect worthy to one is contemptible to another, thus one person’s military hero is another’s fascist scum. I may have no respect for your conduct or beliefs, but does that give me the right to abuse you? Even were you a Tory voting banker, I would argue that you have a right to courtesy, I would would also argue you should be gaoled, but that’s another matter. There was a time when we had a code of conduct, a structure for behaviour which took precedence over our personal opinions. There is a danger that when we eschew formal courtesy we open the door to abuse. It is true that there have always been those who refuse to be bound by rules, but agreed standards of conduct based on a recognition of our common humanity used to afford us all a degree of protection from abuse.

When I was a child we learned manners, sometimes they were beaten into us. People’s behaviour to each other may not always have honestly expressed their feelings, but it prevented a lot of unpleasantness. I am not sure when the degeneration of courtesy began, I suspect it was with films like ‘The Wild One’ and ‘Rebel Without  A Cause’. In the later Twentieth Century we began to glorify rule breaking and self expression, both, to some extent, good things when moderated by reason and respect. We have, unfortunately, so exalted the cult of individualism that the feelings of others have become of little importance compared with our right to behave as we choose. Mutual respect, whether deserved or no, provides a brake on behaviour that may save pain and suffering.

Good behaviour cannot merely be taught, it must ne actively modelled by those to whom society looks for an example. In a country where bankers are dishonest, politicians are adulterers and fiddle expenses, the police are regarded as little better than crooks and our celebrities lead lives of public debauchery, we have no right to expect our young people to behave with courtesy. When the riots start again as they will, remember that the values of our young people come from the conduct of our leaders.


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