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catch them young Values should be instilled early in life
catch them young Values should be instilled early in life

Where have courteous smiles, waves and nods gone?

The little nice things of life are not appealing to people anymore. To say “please,” or “thank you,” seems to be an obvious waste of time in the race for the biggest slice of the material pie. In the good old days, common courtesy was a natural instinct. It came from good upbringing. These were unwritten rules that were picked up from model parents and teachers right from the tender years.

To be pushed or shoved around in a crowded mall is the most normal thing today and if you can get into that elevator by pushing and shoving you could wear an accomplished smile! When did you last hear an “excuse me,” instead of being pushed past people in the early morning rush hour? Or even to get your eye eked out by the sudden opening of an umbrella in a crowded shopping area is little wonder. Worse is the level of manners on the road. The more discourteous on the roads of Chennai, the more is the sense of accomplishment these days. Wonder where the days of a courteous smile or a wave or a nod have gone. These little acts of courtesy are increasingly being replaced by glares, snares and exchange of foul words, least to mention blows.

When adults have forgotten to see love in small things by being courteous, the big question is how are our children going to be courteous? How are golden rules such as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” going to be taught to them? The elderly feel that many teenagers lack decency and respect. A Korean colleague once politely attributed the natural instinct for most Koreans to be polite to the emphasis on being courteous laid by parents during their childhood. If one encountered an occasional rude person on the street, “we generally don’t get angry. We sympathise with the person as we know the person hasn’t had a good childhood!”

Many marriages end in a divorce as couples think it is not so important to show love in small things. They rather have the attitude of taking things for granted. Clearing your cup of coffee, or putting away your shoes in the closet, or turning off the lights in the room, or simply putting the cap back on the toothpaste are little acts of courtesy. Sadly, rudeness conveniently finds its way into many households making life a living hell.

A good friend upset with the increasingly rude behaviour of people remarked, “The more I experience rudeness on the streets, the happier I am that my parents have left me a legacy of good values, and not material values.” But does this make sense in today’s world?

SANDHYA KUMAR

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