“Good Manners Matter”
By Bishop Michael Goings
I know that when my son reads this, he will most likely be a bit embarrassed due to the fact that the idea for this commentary was birthed as a result of a conversation that he and I recently had. He was getting ready to go to an interview in pursuit of his first job. I said to him in a very fatherly fashion, “Son, when you go on this interview, make sure that you look and act in a respectable manner.” To further my point, I continued, “Do not forget to smile and say yes ma’am and no ma’am or yes sir or no sir when they are talking to you.” Given his mild and friendly disposition, he readily received what I was saying and consequently got his first job.
Brought Up to Be Respectful
When I was brought up in New Town, as one of ten siblings, my parents reared us to be mannerly and respectful. There was no place in our home for defiant and disrespectful attitudes or behavior from us, for to do so would incur the wrath and corporal punishment of my father, Big Jim. There was just no way any of us wanted to face the belt of his anger and retribution. He laid down the laws and we were obliged to comply with them. In regard to manners and respect, we were taught to respect grown-ups, especially the elderly. It was a violation of the law of our house to show disrespect for adults, regardless of the circumstances. It did not matter whether they were right or wrong (as they often were); we were told to show respect. We were also instructed to respect authority figures like teachers, policemen, preachers, and etc. There were quite a few times while attending school that I felt the urge to rebel and be disrespectful in certain classes, but I dared not because I feared to face the wrath of Big Jim. My parents’ law, in regard to disrespect, was contrary to the constitutional statute (one of being innocent until proven guilty). Instead, we were guilty until proven innocent. So many times, when I felt like disrespecting those in authority, I held my peace. I bit the bullet, and concealed and clenched my fist as an act of protest when I felt like they were clearly wrong. Although it was quite challenging to do so at the time, it helped to make me who I am today. The final two things we were taught to respect was the dead and other people’s property. While in stores or visiting others, we were not permitted to touch, taste, or handle what was forbidden. Furthermore, we were not allowed to ramble or roam all over the place. My mama kept us in check and held us by her side with invisible leashes that were firmly attached to the harness of strict upbringing. Also, we were taught to say yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, or no sir. This was so inculcated in me from a child forward that it is still a part of my vernacular and way of addressing or greeting most adults, especially those who are due honor.
Good Manners Go Beyond Words
If having good manners was just a matter of words, then it would be an irrelevant issue and not worthy of considering. However, common sense tells us that is not the case and that words alone, though important to having good manners, is just a part of the total package deal.
A Good Attitude
I believe that it is perhaps impossible to truly have good manners without first having a good attitude. Good manners, good conduct, and being respectful stems from a good attitude. Folks with bad attitudes are almost always the ones who have bad manners.
Considerate and Courteous Towards Others
One of the things I observe about bad mannered people is the lack of courtesy and consideration toward others. We are living in a time when far too many people are discourteous and inconsiderate toward the thoughts and feelings of others. One of the trademarks of good mannered people is their willingness to consider and be courteous toward others.
Hygiene and Appearance
People with good manners are concerned about their personal hygiene and appearance. They may not be into wearing fancy clothes and putting on expensive cologne or perfume; however, they know the importance of physical and oral hygiene. They know that negligence in these areas is akin to bad manners and a lack of home training. There is an alarming trend amongst many of our young people in the area of appearance and dress. Far too many have gone overboard with the piercing of their eyelids, nose, tongue, and only heaven knows where else. Then there are those who have become obsessed (possessed maybe a better term) with tattoos. Also, what about the ones who have chosen to wear their pants way down below their waist line and often middle ways of their buttocks. These naïve and deceived youngsters do not realize that they are imitating and perpetuating a style that originated in prison by men who had been sexually molested and violated.
The Benefits of Good Manners
Are there any advantages or benefits to being a good mannered person? There certainly are! I will only consider a few in my closing.
One of the things that is granted to good mannered people is favor. Many who did not warrant nor deserve consideration and kindness by those in authority were extended favor because of their good manners. Good manners have been the deciding factor that opened the door for many who otherwise would not have been allowed to enter.
Advancement and Promotion
Many competent and professionally qualified people have been denied advancement and promotion because of a bad attitude and manners. Contrarily, many not so competent and qualified people were chosen for advancement and promotion because of their good attitude and manners.
Forgiveness and Leniency
I have seen judges and juries drastically reduce the sentences of people found guilty of certain crimes because of their display of good manners before them. Whether you choose to believe it or not, good manners matter and can often be the difference between success or failure, acceptance or rejection, employment or unemployment, and even life or death.
“Good Manners Matter”