Good manners are one of the primary supporting qualities for civilized behavior between people. Good manners provide attitudes and behavior that demonstrate personal respect for others, even those who are “different”. Good manners demonstrate a person’s respect for law and order between people and within groups of people, including neighborhoods, communities, and nations.
Good manners can seldom be consistently required by the force of laws. Parents or police departments cannot always require by the force of punishment that their children or the citizens of their communities treat each other with good manners. They can’t require others to say “please” and “thank you” when making personal exchanges of resources, doing business, or just trying to get along with each other. And they certainly can’t require people to say “I’m sorry” when they have been rude, disrespectful, or unkind to some one else.
Good manners are taught to children and reinforced with adults by lessons for good manners that are conducted by living day by day in families where good manners are consistently practiced. Individuals are not going to be taught such lessons in schools or in on-the-job-training workshops.
And lessons for good manners may not even be personally learned and put into practice if they come from the teachings of various religions and groups of their practitioners. Centuries of history have demonstrated how difficult it is for Christians and Jews to consistently live in close proximity to each other without them experiencing some incidents of prejudice or disrespectful behavior. And the examples of this difficulty become more evident when the groups represent Christians and Muslims or even Protestants and Catholics. It appears that many people, including many Christians and Jews, have not really learned the lesson that Jesus was trying to teach the crowd of people who followed him around that they should “do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). And his summary of God’s laws, with the second summary commandment being to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) has not been easy to keep for any of his followers.
Failure to practice Good Manners
Two recent incidents in distant communities and cultures demonstrate the consequences of people’s failure to practice good manners in human civilized behavior in our world. The burning of a copy of the Quran by pastor Wayne Sapp, an associate of pastor Terry Jones, at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL on March 20, 2011, was used by a group of Muslim in Mazar-e Sharif Afghanistan to stage a riot and to attack a group of innocent residents killing many, including some humanitarian workers from the U.N. Violent riots like these in Afghanistan and disrespectful protests like that of these pastors in Florida are common reminders of the consequences that we all face as we try to live with other people who are “different” from us without practicing good manners.
Good manners have a lot to do with respect for what people consider to be “holy” in their lives. They teach respect for “doors”, personal property, and borders. They serve as guides for good communication, even between people who may not agree with each other regarding the matter being considered or discussed.
Why is it so hard for individuals to learn and to consistently practice good manners with others? What needs to be done to more effectively teach the lessons regarding personal respect for others and law and order in our civil lives together that are represented by good manners? Let’s talk about this.