How important are good manners?
This is a true story
I was raised in a single parent home by a beautiful mother who didn't play. At home, she taught all eight of us good manners the old school way, and that was with a belt or a switch and if in public a good pinch of our skin or a hard slap to the head. It's funny because I can't remember one of my sisters and brother who felt that was child abuse like folks do today.
I raised my teenage daughter differently without the threat of the strap, and she turned out just fine in the manners department. So which method is the best? I think it depends on the kid and each and every household should be able to decide for themselves. It's different strokes for different folks.
Well, my daughter had called me to pick her and a friend up from a day of swimming at our local pool. On the way home she asked me if they could have pizza, so I waited in my truck while they went in and ordered.
After about 15 minutes they returned, got in the truck and began the following conversation, oblivious to me.
Daughter: You know that wasn't right the way that girl talked to that man.
Friend: yeah, he had so many people to wait on, he probably just forgot.
Daughter: Yeah she just barges through the door hollering at the top of her lungs, Hey man you didn't cut my pizza!
Friend: Yeah she was crazy.
Daughter: Yeah and don't look at her, cause she'll say "What you lookin at, you wanna fight"?
Daughter & Friend: Laughter.
Daughter: All she had to say was "Sir I just purchased this pizza, and it seems you forgot to slice.
Friend: Yeah, you're right, and the guy probably would have said, oh I'm sorry ma'am, I'll cut it for you right now.
I didn't think about this little encounter my daughter witnessed until the next day, and even though the race was never mentioned, I just assumed the girl was black, even though we live in an interracial city.
I thought, now that's a shame of me to think of my race this way, but maybe I'm wrong, so I texted my daughter and explained I was working on a web page and needed some information about the color of the rude pizza lady. She texts me back a couple of minutes later with the following message, "black."
I then became motivated in finding out how rudeness got its start in human history and why I had developed this bad opinion of my people?
I discovered that rudeness had been around forever. In the early days of Europeans existence most probably felt there was little need for good manners. Barbarism and savagery were the names of the game. The law of the land was dictated by the most violent and brutal human beings who did as they please and could care less about good manners.
War and hate were all they knew, and there was always some group or race of people attempting to control the masses and create the perfect government and of course falling short.
These savage barbarians didn't understand the words excuse me, thank you or any other common courtesy for that manner. Even though intelligent, they were a very low class, rude, selfish and violent people who thought intimidation and slaughter were the only way to live. They rudely took what they wanted without asking.
But after the printing press was invented in the 1400's, things would slowly begin to change for the Europeans. People now had access to books which before only the teachers and religious class were privy.
When people started reading, this compelled them to raise their level of civilization and manners. People soon began to look at good manners as a sign of refinement as opposed to the barbaric and savage way they had been living for centuries.
Yes, sir, Yes, ma'am, excuse me, thank you, you're welcome, and other pleasantries became the norm when interacting with other human beings. It showed class to the ones practicing it.
This period in European history was called the Age Of Enlightenment. These white people brought these practices with them to the New World (America) and taught their children to do the same.
In contrast, Africa who was made up of many different districts, villages, and clans who also fought wars among themselves already had a good reputation as a mannerable and kind people, almost childlike and humble in nature. Consider a statement once attributed to the Greek Poet Homer on a visit to Africa:
"In ancient times the blacks were known to be so gentle to
strangers that many believed that the gods sprang from them.
Homer sings of the Ocean, father of the gods; and says that
when Jupiter wishes to take a holiday, he visits the sea,
and goes to the banquets of the blacks,--a people humble,
courteous, and devout."
Even during and after years of harsh enslavement, the disposition of most blacks was mannerly and pleasant. They were people who had always longed for peace. Thomas Wentworth Higginson who was a white man who served as colonel of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, the first federally authorized black regiment, from 1862–1864 kept a personal diary of his interaction with blacks of his day. He commented:
"A simple and lovable people, whose graces seem to come by nature, and whose vices by training. Some of the best superintendents confirm the first tales of innocence, and Dr. Zachos told me last night that on his plantation, a sequestered one, "they had absolutely no vices." Nor have these men of mine yet shown any worth mentioning; since I took command I have heard of no man intoxicated, and there has been but one small quarrel. I suppose that scarcely a white regiment in the army shows so little swearing. Take the "Progressive Friends" and put them in red trousers, and I verily believe they would fill a guard-house sooner than these men. If camp regulations are violated, it seems to be usually through heedlessness. They love passionately three things besides their spiritual incantations; namely, sugar, home, and tobacco. This last affection brings tears to their eyes, almost, when they speak of their urgent need of pay; they speak of their last-remembered quid as if it were some deceased relative, too early lost, and to be mourned forever. As for sugar, no white man can drink coffee after they have sweetened it to their liking."
The majority of blacks who came over on slave ships to America were more than likely mannerly, kind, gentle and honorable people, not mean and rude wild beast as portrayed in the media.
So if blacks had a recorded history of gentleness and kindness, why are many associated with rudeness and unmannerly behavior today?
The answer is not complicated to arrive. To understand this site's view, you must use your power of imagination for the answer which is embedded in American history and consider this fantasy...
This insensitive behavior by white citizens is more likely to leave blacks with an unhappy disposition, bitterness, and yes, rudeness issues.
Caution, This Is Just a Fantasy
Early Europeans who were renowned for their shipbuilding capabilities often traveled around the world for trading purposes and in search of new adventures. One of their journeys took them to the beautiful continent of Africa where they encountered people who were black in color and trapped in time. |
The Sahara Desert which slowly grew over the years presented a humongous roadblock which restricted these Africans from venturing out to experience the marvels of Natural Philosophy and Science the rest of the world were experiencing which made whites much smarter than African blacks.These Europeans felt sorry for the Africans because they were not taking advantage of these new discoveries.
The Europeans had heard about a New World (America) in progress that needed many helpers and politely asked the Africans if they wanted to be a part of it. The majority of Africans happily accepted the Europeans invitation and joyously boarded ships for the voyage across the dangerous Atlantic ocean for their new life as immigrants in America. Africans were ecstatic at the opportunity in becoming American citizens and were thankful to the Europeans for using their advanced knowledge of learning and education as tools of love instead of tools for hate.
Upon arrival, the Africans noticed many different tongues and cultures of peoples who were working towards the same goal which was to make America stronger and also to enrich their lives. It was amazing how people were now able to own property, an opportunity that was rare for most unless you were born into wealth. This fact was a common thread that bonded the races together. There were many flares ups between cultures, but in the end, they would always remember they were Americans which would trump all debates and arguments.
Africans took pride and honor alongside other immigrants in making America stronger and carving out their slice of American pie. They all worked very hard. It was marvelous foresight of the early ancestors to understand that a people united are stronger than divided. They figured it would be a much happier America if all were civilized and intelligent.
In time a little of each culture was blended to form a unique American culture. Christmas trees used for celebrating Christmas came from the Germans, Apple pie which everyone loved originated with the English, Saint Patricks Day would become a favorite American holiday thanks to the Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican would contribute to American culture with different foods and customs, Africans helped with dance and song that everyone grooved too. There were also countless other contributions from other cultures that blended into one which made America great and admired from all over the world.
Everyone got along, tolerated and helped each other, and when problems did arise they relied on American law which was clothed with justice, fairness and liberty to quickly settle all disputes because the immigrants unanimously believed in her. All would attend school together, eat together, work together, laugh together and cry together as united Americans. The world was paying close attention to this great experiment and was astounded and envious of America for truly being a land of sweet justice and liberty for all. In fact, the world was jealous.
It seemed like just a short time ago Africans were hunting food in the bush, practicing witchcraft and all kinds of superstitious beliefs. But thanks to American culture they learned to put those foolish things away. They learned how to work for a paycheck, saving money to send their kids to college, the importance of good business practices, taking care of household responsibilities like paying their rent every month which was quite different than tribal living. They learned these things and much more from their white American brothers who were happy to assist them.
All American immigrants supported each other, learned from each other and looked at each other as brothers and would seriously harm foreigners who tried to break up their precious brotherhood. All immigrants excelled and achieved like crazy and were elated to be a part of this happy and smiling melting pot of colorless humanity.
NOW WAKE UP! I TOLD YOU IT'S JUST A FANTASY
Now let's be totally honest. In your mind's eye in the fantasy world described above, how many blacks do you see as rude or unmannerly people and in particular with the good reputation they had enjoyed in Africa?
Let's Find Out What Really Happened
We've all seen countless movies and read the stories of how Africans were uprooted from their homeland to serve whites in America as slaves. It's a wonder that we survived it. A great tragedy that whites think we dwell on too much. What's not talked about much is what happened after slavery. There were millions of uneducated blacks thrust out into American society with little help from the government and had to make do the best way they could. |
Black students didn't receive equal education. They suffered for decades from inadequate funding, outmoded or dilapidated facilities, and deficient textbooks (often ones previously used in white schools). Blacks had to learn American life skills on their own and naturally made many mistakes along the way.
In contrast, American immigrants who arrived in this country were required to attend school right off the ship where they would educate their young and teach them manners in the classrooms. It was a strict requirement. For the most part, Blacks didn't have the resources to provide quality education for its students. If good white people had spoken up and help to correct these injustices of yesteryear, it would have made for a better America for today.
Larry is corrected by Mr. Chalkie on the importance of good manners. These lessons and others like them were an organized requirement by the American government to teach white kids the proper way to treat others. Yes, it's true. Immigrants had to learn these life skills right off the ship.
So, in other words, whites got off to a fantastic start towards American success with uneducated blacks lagging far behind with absolutely no compassion shown by the American government or most white Americans who knew and understood what was happening. They enjoyed their comfy lives blissfully ignorant to struggles of black American citizens and made a complete mockery of democracy, the same democracy they claimed to love and adore.
This dark period in our American history was called Jim Crow and lasted many decades and quite understandably made many blacks bitter, frustrated, angry and rude and especially toward white people. If you don't think Jim Crow was prevalent I suggest you read the biography of just about any famous black person in the past and you'll find the common thread of racism, hate, and exclusion practiced by whites either by their active participation or complete silence. It held blacks back.
Here is a minuscule sampling of how blacks lived in America until the Civil Rights movement of the sixties.
There's not enough room on this web page to describe the hate and exclusion by the government and white Americans against blacks during this period. Jim Crow laws touched every part of life, all across America. Blacks and whites were kept apart as much as possible. Good jobs went to whites, and blacks were given the worst with less pay. Many industries wouldn’t hire blacks. Many unions passed special rules to exclude them. All juries and judges were white, and also blacks were illegally denied voting rights. No blacks allowed in public pools. Many restaurants would not serve blacks, and those that did had a dirty colored section. Blacks and whites went to county fairs on different days. Blacks couldn't use public libraries. Simple common courtesy was rarely shown the blacks. Whites beat, tortured, raped and killed blacks with no fear of punishment. Blacks were denied credit for businesses, housing, cars by the banks. Blacks were kept out of white neighborhoods with housing covenants. Oklahoma had black and white phone booths. Texas had cities where blacks were entirely restricted from living. Blacks could not leave their homes after 10:00 pm in Mobile Alabama. Blacks could not marry whites. Georgia had separate white and black parks. Prisons, hospitals, and orphanages were segregated as were schools and colleges. Blacks and whites had to use different sets of books in school, in Florida, they couldn't be stored together. When a person was sworn in at a trial, the whites used one Bible, and the blacks had a separate Bible. For those who did complete college, a critical question had to be answered. Who was going to be their clients? Whites didn't engage blacks in business, and the battered black person couldn't afford their services. These laws became so entrenched in American life; even unwritten laws affected black citizenship, blacks understood to stay out of white stores and establishments. Segregation was so complete that whites did not see blacks except when being served by them. After the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, blacks have made enormous gains. This is how the United States of America became a polarized country. Each and every President knew what was going on and allowed this illegal activity for 87 years and were guilty of not upholding the United States Constitution in these black American citizens behalf. |
Many whites feel that slavery and Jim Crow happened many years ago and shouldn't affect blacks today and besides they didn't personally have anything to do with it, so why blame them?|
Yes, this is probably the way the majority of whites feels about the race situation. In a sense, white people are saying that this dark period in our collective history doesn't matter and say so because it is not to their advantage to say otherwise. But is that the wise way to look at it? It's interesting how white citizens will pick out the good things about American history to embrace and ignore the bad.
For example, many swear by the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence which were great moments in history beaming full of pride because that's an event in yesteryear white citizens want to remember, celebrate and proudly proclaim.
But when it comes to recognizing the injustices suffered by their fellow black American citizens in a complete breakdown of democracy in which their ancestors played a crucial role, they choose to ignore and trivialize instead of sincerely searching for real solutions to the problem.
Life doesn't work that way; throughout history, man has always been held liable for their ancestor's successes and failures. We must remember the good and the bad because whether we like it or not we're all in this thing together and have been so since the beginning of the colonies. Please remember the first person to die in the Revolutionary War for America was a black man.
So what can a person who has anger, rude issues do?
Deep down inside these people are very sensitive to things around them and perhaps being rude is the only way they understand to express themselves. But sadly, they lack real heart and confidence in their abilities, so they act up to mask these insecurities. They never learned about their African-American roots and about who they should feel honored to represent.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if all who have benefitted from the Civil Rights movement contribute to building manner schools for our kids today? We weren't invited years ago to learn, and a lot of us still lack this crucial life skill. Many black kids think it's okay to dominate and bully others, especially within their race. Think how much this would help them succeed in America.
Many don't appreciate coming from some of the finest stock known to humanity. When a person learns their heritage and understands why things are this way in America, growth and confidence will occur minus the rudeness, anger, and hate. They will begin to feel worthy and without a doubt seek to fly and soar like the eagles.
There were so many brave and amazing blacks who had fewer resources available who accomplished great and wonderful things in America. Learning their stories in this website will make you proud, trust me. You might even tear up.
It will make us feel bad by not achieving to our full potential and not practicing good manners which are what they always did. We all represent something greater than ourselves. They knew we could do it; that's why they blazed the path for us all to succeed, now it's up to us!
Give it a try! And remember to be kind to your local pizza man.