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The Dying Civility Of Respect (Or - Why It Is Not Only The Young People Who Show A Lack Of Respect)
Respect and civility are becoming extinct species.  I suppose they are two separate strands of politeness or etiquette.

To me the "Respect" part is about how you speak to someone and how you treat that person - whilst "Civility" is more applicable to wider society.

It always makes me laugh when people say that you can get away with anything in Holland - put it this way - the rules I was brought up with were a lot stricter than you might think.

For a start - I was in Holland at one point when an interesting debate had made front page news in a national newspaper.  It has nothing to do with any kind of Political Debate, no "celebrity" had passed away, the "Oranje Elftaal" (Duth National Football Team) had not staged one of their implosions - in fact, life for the Dutch seemed to be ticking over quite nicely thank you for asking.

So - what was so interesting about the debate???

The headline was taken up by one question - Should Dutch people be allowed to address each other as "Je" (Informal singular "you") in the office???

I saw this headline approximately 20 years ago.

Yes - the Dutch still operate on the "Formal" and "Informal" modes of address.  (I think I have written on another blog post on here about how the worst English term of abuse is actually a very polite form of telling someone they can do something.)

I will always address strangers as "Sir" or "Madam".

Oh - and if you want me to feel like I am able to treat you with respect on first being introduced to you please tell me both your first name and your surname - especially if you are a lot older than me.

I felt extremely uncomfortable the first time when I went to Scribbles because the rest of the group introduced themselves by their first names only - I was the youngest by 20 years and some of the members were a lot older than that.

The reason for this is - I feel more comfortable calling you "Mr Suchandsuch" or "Mrs Soandso" until you decide I am allowed to call you by your first name.

(There was one time when my personal rule of address saved someone from being told exactly what I thought of their attitude towards me.  For some reason they seemed to think that being verbally abusive towards me was conducive to creating friendly feelings towards them.  They tried to get me to call them by their first name and got a bit uppity when I told them that I would prefer to address them as "Mr Soandso".  They were the ones who later apologised for what they had said to me.)

I could go on about how children seem to swear at each other as though the F word, the "C" word, and (in some instances) the "T" word are part of normal everyday language - as well as their apparent love of holding conversations at the tops of their voices (particularly in enclosed spaces - like buses).

I could also go on about how children never give up their seats for the elderly or disabled - as well as putting their feet on the seats on public transport.

However - seeing as they seem to learn from their parents - I think I would be fighting a losing battle.

Another source of education on "How not to behave in public" is the Mainstream Media.  No - I am not talking about the soaps for once.  I am talking about News reports and "Discussion" programmes - where the rules seem to be "There are no rules".

(In fact, I put this blog post in the category of "Inspired By The News" because - even though it was sparked off by a conversation with one of my friends - I was so infuriated by the behaviour of some of the allegedly grown up adults on both the news and the programme about the "EU Referendum" tonight.  I thought a debate or a discussion was supposed to be about listening to the other person's point of view - not trying to drown them out with your own opinion???)

I am not one to always want to go back to the past (and I certainly wouldn't want to be forced to work out which cutlery to use for which course at a 12 course banquet) but I really think we should go back and relearn how to be polite and civil to each other (and treat everybody with respect - whether or not they do the same to us).


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