When I started writing about manners I decided to have a look at some blogs and forums on the topic – and you know what? There are a lot of angry people out there.
When someone shows a lack of courtesy we feel affronted or outraged. If someone walks slowly on the street in front of us, or blocks the path on the escalator it infuriates us. In Sydney, if you let someone into the lane in front of you in traffic, they are supposed to wave. If they forget to do this, it turns Sydney drivers into tailgating, horn honking, swearing and gesturing furies.
All of this outrage and fury doesn’t change anything. Bad manners continue to affront us on a daily basis and as we react, we compound the problem by adding our own negative energy to it.
I’m wondering now, if it might be better if we just calmed down a little. Is our need or desire to move quickly through a crowd more important than another’s need or desire to take a leisurely pace? And if we are forced to walk or drive slowly for a time, does it matter? Do we really need to feel so irritated?
The thing is, we tend to be most irritated when the person in our way is a stranger. If we realise we know the person, suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad. Perhaps its because we no longer look at them as simply an obstacle and start to see them as a thinking, feeling, complex human being.
I used to be really bothered by a neighbour of mine who continues to turn his television volume up to a level that drowns out my own. I was almost at the point of going around to his place and demanding he turn it down, when another neighbour organised a barbecue and invited us all to it. I met the man with the loud tv. He is a very pleasant and gentle natured person. Somehow since then, I never feel annoyed when he turns his television up. I just laugh and think, there’s Marcus with his loud tv again. He’s no longer an irritation – I see him as a human being now – and perhaps that is the key.
I’m trying to take a more forgiving approach to others now, because I’ve realised that becoming angry doesn’t change anything. I gain nothing through anger and irritation. When I take a forgiving approach people seem more human, the world seems kinder and my walk through it is lighter.
Perhaps it might change the world a little as well – if one by one we become less angry and more understanding, the world has to become a better place.