Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Respect...Sorry, Sort of A Rant

I'm not concerned with your liking
or disliking me.  All I ask is that you
respect me as a human being.

-Jackie Robinson-

When I walked down the subway stairs yesterday after a long, hard day at work,  an older gentleman held the door open for me.  As is my habit, I picked up my steps and  looked at him and smiled, "Thank you."  Then I did my usual roundabout to see if someone was coming, and happened upon a gentleman maybe 15 feet from the door.  I don't know exactly how far enough away from the door he was, but I did know that, had I let the door shut, it would not have slammed in his face.  The man saw me holding the door and knew I wasn't going to slam it in his face, but didn't bother pick up his pace until he reached the door; then, he picked up his step and squeezed on through, not bothering to take the door from me,  leaving me standing there holding the door like I was 'his' personal door person.  Not even a 'thank you' from him.  Of course, he had to hear my rather sarcastic, "Thank you and you're welcome."  You don't know how much that kind of stuff irks the heck out of me.

Respect and manners...where have they gone?  Is there any one of us who does not wish to have a little basic respect?  After all, when one respects others, shouldn't they receive the same?  Isn't it true that when we are respected, we know that our role in society is appreciated? I was always under the impression that we desired, and even worked for respect.   "Respect your body." "Respect other cultures, religions, beliefs."  "Think of the next person." "Respect his/her feelings." "Respect your elders."  Heck we use the word respect so often, but  do we even know what respect is anymore?  I know most of us do, but what of the younger generation.  Do they know?   Did anyone bother to take the time to teach them what respect really means?

I remember that back in my day,  we were taught manners, in school,  and, when I had my children I made sure I passed those manners on down to them. And it didn't stop there. I not only taught them; I also expected them to use what they had learned .  On the subway, when they were babes, they were on my lap, unless the seat next to me was available.   I see mothers today  allow a toddler to lie down on the seat and take up enough space for three tired adults to sit.  And, when my children were older, they were allowed to sit only if there were seats available for an adult...especially an older adult.  My children were taught to use the words, 'please, thank you, you're welcome', as well as to hold doors for others.  My boys are not perfect, and they do make plenty of mistakes, but manners are one thing I drilled into their heads.

I find it so sad that respect and manners seem to be such a lost art these days. Treating others with decency and respect should be something that happens naturally. Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself.  But that doesn't happen often in today's fast paced society as  we hurriedly rush through every aspect of our lives, forgetting the feelings of others along the way. Sometimes I don't think we mean to slam a door in someone's face; I think we just aren't paying that much attention to the next person as we think about something we have to do at our job or how we are going to pay our rent.  We forget that we are not alone in the world, that there are others around us.  

Now, with that being said, I would like to relate a little story of something that happened a few years back.  This went beyond manners and rudeness. It had been a long day on the job, and my back had been aching on and off to the point where the walk to the subway was torture.  The train itself was packed, no available seats, but as I moved into the train I heard a seated teen-age girl ask her friends what stop they were getting off at, and it turned out to the next stop. So, I inched my way down closer and waited.  The next stop when the girl got up, I sat down and breathed a sigh of relief.  It was then that I overheard the girl,  young enough to be my granddaughter smirk and say, " Look, at that lady.  She couldn't wait to grab my seat".   And then they laughed at me.  I tell you, the whole thing was pretty sick.   It really makes one wonder.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "Life be not so short but that there is always time for courtesy."  I have to believe that this girl and her friends actually didn't know any better.  It was obvious that respect is not even a part of their vocabulary.  And who is to blame?  Parents.  Schools.  Obviously, someone is not doing their job.  The basic tenet of manners is the ability to think of others before yourself. Such simple acts such as opening a door for  someone or helping a person across the road or offering to carry their shopping can make someone's day. 
But thankfully, all is not lost.  I'd like to close by sharing another little story with you.  This happened not too long ago, the day after the first  big snowstorm.  I had come up the escalator and discovered there was no place to go; the up escalator was all that was there, and there snow was piled sky high all around me. The only way out was to climb over the mountain of snow that blocked the crosswalk.  I panicked and looked in all directions, but there was literally nowhere to go.  I started to cry. "I can't do it."  I said aloud, not realizing that I had said it aloud.  It was then I heard, "Yes, you can, I will help you."  I turned, the young woman took my arm, and not only helped me over the mountain, but also across the slippery street.  And that was a gesture I will never, ever forget.  Young lady, wherever and whoever you are, you gave an old lady faith that all is not lost to the world, and for that, I thank you.

The principal thing children are taught by hearing these lullabies is respect. They are taught to respect certain things in life and certain people.  By giving respect, they hope to gain self-respect and through self-respect, they gain the respect of others.  Self-respect is one of the qualities my people stress and try to nurture, and one of the controls an Indian has as he grows up.  Once you lose your self-respect, you just go down.--Henry Old Coyote


  1. You hold the door... And he doesn't hurry up, even a little, or say thank you. Yeah! Stuff like that irks me too.

    One of my pet peeves, along this line.... On a crosswalk [in our city anyway] the walker has the right of way, when they have the light. So of course, if a car is turning across the walker's path, he has to wait.

    When I'm the walker, I make eye contact with the driver who is waiting, and do some sort of a 'thank you' gesture. Annnnnnnnnnd, try to hurry a bit, as I walk, to get out of his way. Now I'm old, and my hurrying isn't much probably, but I try to show that I am TRYING to not just saunter.

    And it bugs me, when others do not do likewise, when we are the car, waiting to turn. Grrrrrr...

    Thank you!

    Hugs and ♥'s...
    'Cause Valentine Day is coming!

  2. oh Mary I know so what you mean... I often wonder where manners and just simple respect and politeness have gone. A simple thank you is one of the first things I taught my children to say and understand... Even my dog knows thank you. I love the story of the young woman who helped you... There is still kindness out in the world, it is just a bit more scarce

  3. Oh yeah. Great post. I have been ranting about this for a long time. The younger generation is a generation of people who are all about themselves. I do blame the ones who were responsible for teaching them - as you said, parents, teachers. I mean, who else is responsible? I think that parental guilt has resulted in over the top indulgences and lack of discipline in their children and the appauling behavior and the result is a lack of concern for anyone outside of themselves and it doesn't stop there - young people are the future of our society so here we have it - the world in which we currently live and our society of self absorbed, isolated, plugged in and tuned out people.

    What can we do? Teach our children and our grandchildren well. Continue to behave responsibly. Thank everyone who acknowledges our existence. Help others when they need it even if it offers no promise of anything in return. Be an example. It's all we can do.

  4. Oh Mary....what a wonderful post today on respect and "kindness". I always enjoy my visit here as you always have something meaningful to impart.
    Let me close with this: "I have wept in the night
    for the shortness of sight
    that to somebody's needs made me blind;
    But I have never yet
    Felt a tinge of regret
    For being a little too kind."




  5. Thank You for posting this very poignant message today Mary...I'm with you all the way on this! Let's pray for a beginning to respect in all peoples, all ages, everywhere and make that a mantra. We can change've already begun. :)

    Thank You Mary!
    Peace, Respect and Love!

  6. I hear ya about the respect and manners. It makes me CRAZY when parents don't instill the values of respecting their elders. It also makes me crazy when I don't get a thank you for holding the door for someone. I too make that same comment of Thank you Your Welcome. Pay it Forward I guess, be the change you want to be. I started with manners with my Littleman as soon as he started uttering words. I still have to nudge and remind him from time to time, but that's my job.

  7. I meant, be the change you want to see....too much caffeine, my fingers are going to fast!

  8. The world can really be full of ignorant asshats sometimes. Full!

  9. Some people were drug up, not raised .
    Please and thank you are foreign words to their ears. :0(
    Met my share....unfortunately.

  10. I think rudeness might be more common the larger a community one lives in. Here in the rural area I live in, courtesy is an everyday thing. If it is something that is practiced in the home, it can usually be seen in the kids that are raised there. Of course, there are some kids who just don't or won't get it even in the right environment.
    Mary, hopefully your example will rub off on some of the people you come in contact with. X.

  11. I think the rudeness and disrespect are where you live. This is why I don't like going to the city. Everyone there is always is such a hurry they will run you over and where are they in such a hurry to go? I am thrilled that this young lady helped you in a time when you had all but given up.