Friday 6 December 2019

Please, thanks and sorry. Three words we all need.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
Leslie Nielsen and Robert Hays in Airplane
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Let's be honest, it's the little things in life that drive us bonkers. We all experience it on a daily basis - casual rudeness, a lack of consideration, the sheer bloody minded refusal to acknowledge the basics of social etiquette we were brought up with.

So there was something rather depressing about the fact that it has taken a study in America to reveal the startling truth that simply saying 'thank you' can help to 'form social bonds'.

Of course, being an academic study, the researchers from the University of North Carolina had to complicate things by writing in academese: "We reasoned that if gratitude expressions function to service social relationships, the effect should be better explained by warmth than by competence." I couldn't have put it better meself.

It shouldn't take a bunch of boffins justifying a research grant to tell us what we already know, even if too few of us put it into practise. But the simple fact is that simple manners are the glue that holds a society together. And, as every Irish Mammy will tell you, they cost nothing.

But the way some people behave these days you'd be forgiven for thinking that politeness is a precious, finite natural resource that should only ever be used in exceptional circumstances, such as when talking to a cop or your bank manager.

Why do many people find it so difficult to say 'please' or 'thank you'? Why do so many drivers blithely drive past someone who has let them out without bothering to make even the tiniest gesture of acknowledgement?

Further, why do so many women feel that it is not only their right, but appropriate, to walk through a door that's held open by a man as if they're on the red carpet and above such trifles as basic courtesy?

The reason why consideration for others matters so much is because it's something that we, and we alone, control. The powers-that-be can take your money or your job, but they shouldn't be allowed to take your self respect aswell.

And, let's be honest, when a person fails to say please or thanks it's their subtle way of letting you know that you're so far off their radar they don't think you are worth the effort. And that's a pretty shocking way to treat anybody.

While we're at it - why do so many of us think that saying sorry is sign of grave personal weakness, rather than a simple recognition that they were in the wrong? I've lost count of the number of times a car has stopped in the yellow box at a junction and rather than raise their hand in apology (we all make mistakes, it's no big deal) they either stare stubbornly ahead, oblivious to the honking horns, or they challenge their fellow drivers to a scrap.

In a culture that is now obsessed with rights and entitlements, manners are either not taught or are simply discarded as an obsolete social affectation.

It's the little things in life that make us want to go on a killing spree.

And it shouldn't take a scientific study to tell us that manners make the world a nicer, better place.

This is your pilot... crying

There was a time when people could be divided into two groups - those who were good flyers and those who weren't. Sadly, even that distinction has vanished because we're all consumed by the stress and anxiety that comes from running the gauntlet of asinine rules and studied contempt which passes for a modern check-in procedure.

But even the best flyer would be forgiven for regretting their mode of transport if they had been aboard a recent flight from Split to Nantes.

Passengers were initially told that there was a minor malfunction and they would have to make an emergency landing, but things took a turn for the weird when the pilot lost his nerve. According to one shaken punter: "When the pilot next came on he was crying. He said we had six minutes before we would crash, but that we should not panic. People were screaming out at the back of the plane."

Ah yes, nothing quells panic at 30,000 feet quite like the pilot bursting into tears over the intercom.

I imagine the cleaning bill for the seats after they landed was fairly steep, too.

Well, that worked out, didn't it?

Back when the so called 'Arab Spring' erupted, most sensible people (in other words, those who agreed with me) saw it for the disaster it has now, inevitably, become.

When things spilled into Syria and we faced nightly reports of the brave FSA 'rebel alliance', the West was brainwashed into thinking they were the good guys in a region that was primarily populated by nutters.

Life is seldom that simple, even if that construct was an obvious fallacy, but there are still some deluded American hawks who think they should be arming these rebels.

Now news has emerged that a 'moderate' rebel group sold Steven Sotloff to ISIS for 25 grand.

Is that a new definition of 'moderate'? The ones who only sell their victims to ISIS, rather than doing the actual beheading?

Or, there is the alternative idea that the West should stop trying to look at this lot through our eyes, and start seeing them for what they actually are.

Irish Independent

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