Let’s discover our noble selves

I was commenting on SK’s blog, and my comment there compelled me to write this post.

With much sadness I am realizing that as a nation we are so caught up in some urgency that can best be described as goalless and meaningless. We are caught up in outdoing the other, we are losing our patience, we are getting mean and rude as a race, we are constantly hurling abuses and picking fights with strangers on the road, we argue more and more with no purpose, we don’t understand the meaning of constructive criticism, all we know - is how to reach into our primeval instincts and nudge the other out because the threat looms large in our minds that they may overtake us in some form and that threatens our peaceful state if any! We have forgotten that we are one of the oldest civilizations, who were acknowledged for our diversities, our skills, our art, our nobility, our sense of wisdom, culture and above all a basic politeness which is a trademark of a good community

As a nation we are increasingly forgetting some basic courtesies such as saying please and thank you, while other good manners, such as sending handwritten thank-you letters and holding the door open, are slipping

Very few people always make a point of saying please when asking for something. Almost entirely not too many say thank you no more. I was talking to a bunch of youngsters on how they would react if they bumped into somebody by accident, they claim they would not apologize if they bumped into a passer-by and that they would happily let a door slam in someone's face if they were in a hurry.

Things are unlikely to get any better in the run-up to New year either, which is fast becoming a festival of rudeness, impatience and bad manners.
Queuing, being caught in crowds, attacking bartenders because your glass is empty - all leads to short tempers and rudeness. We all want things in a hurry, lets barge past soon, get what we need and step away from the crowds - adds to further chaos, and further stepping on toes. But who really does care? Now we shush and mutter loudly and think nothing of queue-jumping if that gets us to our goal faster

What is this if not a race which is incredibly selfish and bad mannered? Where has our nobility disappeared? And our politeness? When will we search for it and how will we ensure we preserve it and teach these great values to our kids?
We all rationalize and accept that life is so fast-paced these days that people no longer make the time for social niceties. But who is losing out here?
The attitude of firing off quick texts and emails definitely lends itself to great response time, and I am sure we can use the same mode and media to be nobler and more patient as a society too. Lets learn to breathe, pause and count to 100 to calm down, grin, be cheerful, be optimistic, hopeful, value others and be helpful.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2009. Thank you all who visited and commented on both my blogs (www.meetravels.blogspot , www.quip-pro-quo.blogspot) during the whole year 2008, I appreciate them very much. Your support helps me to keep my bloging in progress! :)


mathatheist said...

Good manners, graciousness, charm, wit; I do miss all of these. :)

Raj said...

Do you hate losing or are you gracious in defeat? This epitomizes India. We hate losing. Period. And the highest personification comes when Australia fight us tooth and nail in a match but if they lose they are gracious in their press statements and praise of India. Ofcourse its a different matter how they use media to play mindgames with us. But the point here is can we instead be gracious about our defeat and not behave like sore losers?

Shweta said...

When was the last time you saw someone automatically give up their seats on buses and trains to the infirmed and the elderly …

Shopping is not a pleasant experience anymore. Sales staff often tend to gang together and chit chat amongst themselves and remain oblivious to the customer, and even make remarks about the customer, but will not go out of their way to meet the needs of customers …

Look at our healthcare system. Patients are treated with zero caring or respect, zero patience or zilch empathy. Nurses often mutter under their breath, forget words of encouragement, they dont even remember to ask how the patients are doing when they undergo uncomfortable or painful procedures

Sigh with a heavy heart...

john said...

Maybe as a society you need to have a larger voice in shaping the future of your country. Make you need to feel that your voices really matter. Thats when you'll will feel like you are cared for, heard and will behave more graciously and be helpful too, perhaps?

Anon said...

Let us make public transport, healthcare, education, housing and other essentials affordable to ordinary people. We should put people first in providing these essential services and not treat them as opportunities for businesses to make profits and more profits. Then we have some hope indeed.

sanjiv said...

In my opinion, being gracious and noble is not only about being pleasant, kind and courteous but it is in that generosity of spirit which it all lies - the social graces, the civic-mindedness, the empathy, the tolerance. It includes being flexible, listening, empathizing and understanding. There are so many times in life, when I think it just takes a little to be more gracious but it seems to be very difficult, perhaps because we are so short of listening, short of empathizing, short of understanding.

sheila said...

The environment is very important to making us gracious. My mum said that graciousness must begin with the adults and she is absolutely right. How can our children be gracious when we ourselves are not?

gita said...

I think it was Milton who said, "The childhood shows the man as morning shows the day". So- manners must be emphasized from childhood. I hope all parents are listening! And not giving in to the the fear of kids rebelling which I know some parents are doing today- rather than face the temper of the child, its easy to skirt the issue or better still sweep it under the carpet! We will have only ourselves to blame in the future if we dont step it up now.

ashish said...

Some everyday tips:)

If you are in a mixed group, always greet the elders and the women first.

Don’t shout to be heard. Don’t interrupt others while they’re talking.

Don’t address elders and seniors by their names, unless they have specially asked you to, in India at any rate. Try ‘Sir/ Ma’am’ for strangers and ‘Uncle/ Aunty’ (or Chachaji, Mausiji etc) for familiar people. For a stranger who is not so old, it is better to suffix the name with ‘ji’, as a mark of respect.

Stand up when an elder or a guest enters the room and don’t sit until you’ve offered them a seat.

Offer a glass of water (and preferably a cup of tea) to anyone who steps into your home/ office.

Do not continue to watch TV or surf the net when you have a visitor.

Stand when the national anthem (of any country) is playing. Show respect to all flags and all religious symbols.

Lower the music or TV volume when others are talking or trying to sleep.

Do not ask too many intimate or invasive questions the first few times that you meet a person.

Do not comment on personal appearances or clothes in a negative way; if you cannot say something complimentary, do not say anything at all.

Jim said...

I was always told that girls prefer good manners to good looks in men. Obviously the fairer sex has become less discriminatory now.

RavneetSingh said...

Incredible India. Intolerance unlimited. We should have got rechristened long ago:)

melinda said...

I’m an old guy; 58 at last count and have been around for longer than most of you and I remember a far more gentle, polite and well-mannered country.

The India of today looks loutish in comparison.

People speak louder today than they used to. And the increase in ambient noise isn’t an explanation for speaking loudly all the time.

The advent of the mobile phone of course has contributed greatly to loutish behavior. Now you get to talk loudly even if no one around you is speaking to you.

Why is this happening?

People push and shove everywhere. I remember as a kid getting up to offer a seat to ladies in buses and things. Not because I was a particularly nice kid but because it was considered “the done thing”. Every well bought up guy did it.

Doesn’t seem to happen any more.

Look at the traffic on the road. While we’ve always practiced a little more laissez-faire than the Western countries we have never before seen such naked aggression and foulness on our roads.

Perhaps it is time the government took note of this and started becoming a little more pro-active in enforcing good behaviour.

Apart from not practicing it ourselves we appear to have lost the ability to appreciate it in others also.

Hold the lift door open for someone and they look at you suspiciously, as if you have some hidden agenda like lifting their wallets while opening the door or something. Someone saying thank you is the exception rather than the rule.

The other day a candidate came for an interview, put his arms behind his neck and leaned back as if he was sitting with a friend. He was also dressed badly and smelt rather foul.

Maybe he wanted to show that he wasn’t intimidated, but all he achieved was to be politely told thank you for coming. There were 4 of us conducting the interview and 3 of them were below 30. All of us concluded we didn’t want people who lacked basic social intelligence working in our company.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, as the Tata Indica ad so eloquently says.

Social intelligence goes a long way in getting you closer to your goals. I wonder why we are forgetting that as a country.

Anon said...

Sad but true. There was a time when Indians were admired for their grace and good manners.

Mike said...

This is my first reponse to your blog in many weeks Mee. Apologies. Been caught up with xmas n holidays here. Yeah the rules of being polite are same everywhere -here is U.S we have the same rules:?)

But the most important thing that we need to realize and appreciate is the attitude of the people. That is something that we need to learn. Everyday a person meets you they ask you “How are you Doing today” and when u leave the office they say “Have a wonderful evening” . These polite manners really make your day pleasant
I think most of us Indians need to learn these simple yet wonderful attitudes from these people

megat said...

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