Monday, May 30, 2011

Why courtesy counts

At a time when NBA stars are hurling gay slurs and anti-RH Bill advocates are throwing punches, I am once more reminded that though we live in a supposedly enlightened modern age, people still show signs of being savages.

To me, it is staggering how many people don't seem to have even the most rudimentary grasp of common courtesy anymore. Most are so fixated on grand gestures and loud statements that they tend to overlook the little acts of decency that are actually more important. As I've written in this blog before, I firmly believe that respect-- that most basic acknowledgment of another person's human dignity-- should never be compromised. And respect is reflected in the simplest of ways that we often take for granted: switching our cellphones to silent mode inside a theater; wearing proper attire in a place of worship; speaking politely to elders or people in authority; returning a store clerk or security guard's greeting; saying "thank you" or "please" or "excuse me". All these are so ridiculously easy to do, yet for many it's easier to just not do them at all. Or worse, they are deemed insignificant, or inconvenient.

Those who do away with simple courtesies or throw etiquette out the window show a blatant disregard for others. The people around them are unimportant, undeserving of the effort it takes to be polite or proper. I can understand if they can't be nice to everyone all the time, but if they can't be nice, then at the very least be DECENT. No matter how intense the argument, how shitty the situation, how divided the loyalties, or how high emotions are running, there is no need to resort to fisticuffs, insults, mudslinging, or cussing. Classic examples are the boorish behavior one sees from rabid Ateneo fans, pro athletes or Philippine senators. There are countless cases of bad conduct from people who are inconsiderate of others' rights and insensitive to others' feelings, and it's dismaying to think that in an already fractured society, we can't even fall back on plain old decency.

In a world of varying values, contrasting beliefs, and clashing passions, it is unrealistic to expect everyone to get along. The only way we can all get by (even without getting along) is to behave like civilized human beings, and simply agree to disagree while still observing good manners. And perhaps, if it's not asking too much, a little compassion and kindness. Anyone incapable of that bare minimum shows either a sorry lack of breeding, or a sad deficiency in character. And people like that not only don't deserve to be heard, but they aren't worth any attention.


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