Comments from the canyons: Manners only in decline because we allow it

Recently, the subject of manners came up in a conversation.

The person who introduced the subject seemed to believe that some of the manners we were taught had changed only during the last few years. The main act under discussion was the opening of doors by gentlemen. Obviously, a man had just entered ahead of this friend while she was holding the door, and he didn’t even say, “Thank you.”

Well, I began to reflect a bit about earlier years when I began noticing that particular act. I began to turn my observation into a game in order to entertain myself on the way to classes.

Yes, I was teaching on campus and often had to walk from building to building during the day to reach my classes. During class change time, many students and faculty crowded the walks and trails.

One morning, I opened the door to the history building, and before I could enter, several young men walked right in front of me. Of course, a young ag student noticed what was happening and held the door so I could enter ahead of him. Naturally, I thanked him and went on to class.

From then on, I had similar experiences several times a day and even held the door for male faculty member, although I usually muttered, “You are welcome,” as they bumbled along.

The female students were just as eager to enter without holding the door as were the male students. Obviously, they didn’t come from the same part of the country in which I grew up. My parents and teachers would have had a few words to say to me had I dashed in ahead of one of my female teachers or it I hadn’t offered to hold the door for an older gentleman. Also, I would have received a harsh word or two if I hadn’t said, “Thank you,” when someone else held the door for me.

Naturally I discussed the subject in my classes on occasion and was often amused at how attentive the students would be for several days. The young men would be particularly polite and would even remove their hats without my having to say that the sun was not shining in the classroom.

Yes, our attention to manners of all kinds have declined, but we have allowed them to do so. When parents and teachers don’t make any effort to correct poor behavior, we can’t really blame the youth for their limited knowledge.

Also, if they don’t see examples of the use of good manners, they may give little thought to trying to practice them. I’ll bet those of you in my age group can still name the adults who were well-known for their use of good manners when you were very young. They were examples for us to follow and to respect. We were very fortunate to have such examples and such parents who wanted us to be able to set a few examples when we grew up.

Thank you for reading this column.

Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.

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