Q Dear Miss Abigail:
My wife and I have been noticing lately that very few people apologize anymore for their mistakes, especially vendors who have given poor service or who have delivered a defective product.
We think it is because people in general feel more beleaguered, and also because we live in such a litigious world that people have become naturally reticent to expose themselves to blame.
Any thoughts on this from the past?
A Dear Kevin:
Don’t sue me for saying this, but I blame it all on cell phones and SUVs.
No, no, no. It’s actually all my fault. I admit it. Obviously I’ve been answering too many kissing and dating questions, having assumed that people were pretty well set when it came to manners. I guess I was wrong, so I’ll make up for lost time this week. Here’s a little refresher for everyone out there, cell phone and SUV owners included. It’s the foreword to Manners Today, which was written by M. Thelma McAndless in 1943.
1943: Manners Today
Today . . . you and I, when destitute of courtesy, are conspicuous by our lack of kindness, tolerance, and understanding. For what is courtesy, really, but respect for the other person’s feelings, rights, beliefs? What are manners but the symbol of courtesy, the ‘do unto others’ attitude practiced in everyday life.
‘Do unto others’ . . . Perhaps pride, selfishness, and ambition have veiled the meaning. Perhaps it requires too much courage to be tolerant, too much intelligence to by sympathetic. Or perhaps it takes sacrifice and suffering to appreciate the simple phrase. Be as it may, gracious living demands courtesy.
In gracious living with its emphasis upon common sense, decency, good taste, kindliness, and justice lies the solution for international friendship and good will, for freedom and peace.
Source: McAndless, M. Thelma. Manners Today. Detroit: Briggs Publishing Company, 1943.
~ foreword ~