Politeness In Our New World

I was raised, not by wolves as some people believe but by caring and nurturing parents and grandparents that taught me to be kind to others and always polite.  Two incidents in two days convinced me that politeness is perhaps passe – a relic of a bygone era that ended with Leave it to Beaver America.

I had the opportunity at the medical clinic to hold open the door for three groups rather than walk thru first myself.  The first were a pair of elderly ladies, the second a man of my age, and thirdly a teenager.  The elderly ladies thanked me for my gesture. The man of my age seemed insulted that I was holding the door open and the teenage seemed completely blase bumping into me as he entered.  I have always held doors open for people.  Perhaps I was a doorman in a former life.  It doesn’t take long to be nice and so I do.

Last night while attending church services I saw a young man of twenty or so stand up from his comfortable pew seat and offer it up to an elderly lady with a cane.  She grumpily refused and the young man sat back down.  The old lady was question by her daughter as to her refusal and she responded that she did not need help from anyone.  The gesture was completely lost on her but I’m sure the young man felt better that he had at least offered.

Less and less do I see people acting out of niceness and kindness to others.  I see too many incidents of harried and rude behaviour towards others.  Does it take so long to hold a a door open or to allow someone to cross the street ahead of you, or to clear a path in the grocery store aisle so that a cart can get by.  If you a have a cart full of groceries and the guy behind you has a few items would it hurt to let them cash out ahead of you.

So while I witnessed this one act of kindness this weekend and experience three different reactions in my extension of politeness to others I am resolved to continue my ways and maybe look harder for people being kind lest I become cynical about our human condition.


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