Robert's Random Ravings

Common Courtesy

An interesting thing has been happening around America as the years have gone on. We have gotten less and less friendly to our neighbors and the people we live with. In fact, it seems that many people have become more isolated. One of the symptoms of this is the fact that many people act as if they are the only person in the world. Take the people that are driving, for example, on a highway and are unsure of where they need to go. So what do they do? They slow down and try to “hedge” their bets by being in more than one lane at the same time. That way, once they do figure out where they are supposed to be going, they won’t have to contend with someone else blocking their way.

Or the people that miss their exit on the highway and feel that it is therefore OK to pull to the shoulder and back up to their exit, as opposed to going to the next exit and circling back.

How about the people that walk into a store and stop immediately when they get to the door because they are not sure where they want to go, so therefore no one else should be able to move until they make their decision.

Common courtesy has gone by the wayside in our culture now.

Texting and usage of cell phones is another example. If I am on the street and need to read a text message (or write one), I try to move out of the way and to the side so that I do not inconvenience anyone else. This is not the common way of handling this situation. Most people think nothing of stopping in the middle of the sidewalk and blocking everyone around them, as long as they can do what they need to do.

Or how about when people are talking on a cell phone in a public place. Say a restaurant. When I get a call at a restaurant, I do one of two things. Either I tell the person that I cannot talk (or just ignore the call and let it go to voicemail) or I go outside of the restaurant so that I will not bother other people with my conversation. Again, I think this is just common courtesy, but I would dare say that many people don’t operate that way.

We have lost a step or two over the years in the way we interact with each other, particularly in our large cities. This is one of the first things I noticed when I left Miami and moved to Austin. People were friendly. They were genuinely interested in each other. It was such a pleasant change of pace from what I grew up with in Miami, where it seems that nobody gets along with anyone else.

I think we should all take a moment to reflect on our behavior and to the effect we have on others. It’s not too late to change. Rodney King famously said (after the Los Angeles riots in 1992): “can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids?…It’s just not right. It’s not right. It’s not, it’s not going to change anything.” It’s a simple statement, but it has the ring of wisdom.

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02/21/2009 - Posted by | General | , , , , , , , , ,

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