Please, Thank you and You’re Welcome

Marvin Adams2

by: Marvin Adams (Pictured here) a parishioner of St. Anthony’s Parish in Washington DC.

Such small words, yet, oh, so powerful when spoken. There was a time, in the not too distant past, when these words actually ruled the day. But that time, seemingly like that of the Dodo bird has been lost to extinction. Or has it? That indeed is the million dollar question. The answer obviously depends upon who is asked, and not surprisingly, the region of the country you reside in.

Recently, Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of Network, ventured into Michelle Bachmann’s state to give a lecture on civility. I thought the timing and location to be most interesting. Network’s headquarters’ is a stone’s throw from the United States Capitol. I maintain that those who occupy that edifice should have being given that same lecture for varying reasons. Case in point, a few years ago during the course of a State of the Union address, President Obama was interrupted by a “gentleman” from South Carolina. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC yelled out, his now infamous, “you lie.” But Congressman Wilson is not the first, nor will he be the last to display such total disregard for decorum and civility, which used to be the norm, especially in public forums, such as the SOTU.

I can cite example after example to justify my premise that as a society, we have become so self-centered that we have lost the ability to extend basic courtesies toward each other. A few years ago, when my sons, Preston and Byron, were nine and seven, respectively, we had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Prior to entering that establishment Byron held the door for Preston and I, and for a “lady” who appeared to be in her late twenties to early thirties. This individual did not acknowledge Byron’s gesture, and children being children, Byron responded by saying: “Dad, she did not say thank you!” I used this incident as a teachable moment for my sons. I conveyed to them that even if your courtesy isn’t acknowledged; continue to do what you were taught. Do so, not to necessarily expect acknowledgment, but more importantly, because it is the right thing to do.

There is also a distinct difference between rural, urban and regional areas of our country, with respect to civility. The South is often maligned for many things…being backward; less progressive and seemingly less amenable to acceptance of change are just a few which readily come to mind. However, generally speaking, the folks in the South are more civil than their compatriots in other areas of the country, when it comes to extending courtesies. Intermingled with their “how ya’ll doing” will be litanies of yes ma’am/sirs, none of which were lost upon me.

As an avowed “city guy” I am often taken aback when riding public conveyances in Washington, D.C. The unwritten rule of allowing seniors and those with children to board first hardly, if ever applies. What’s even more bewildering is that the operators do not even attempt to enforce this rule. During a recent visit to Atlanta and New Orleans, the opposite seemed to be true. I was pleasantly surprised to see individuals step aside, so as to allow seniors to board first – without being prompted!

There are many things in our lives which we cannot control. I submit that being respectful and courteous toward one another is indeed something which we can control. But in order to affect that, we must start, as the late Michael Jackson gave us, with “The Man (Woman) In the Mirror.” I can only begin to imagine how much more civil our society would be if we all made a concerted effort to look in the mirror more often. If we did, “The world would be a better place, for you and me…” Absent that, we are just whistling Dixie!

Published in: on February 18, 2014 at 11:46 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Thank you and You”re Welcome, and certainly please, “Good morning (or afternoon, or evening) good people”, I have been told were greetings of St. Francis of Assisi. Do we even take time to greet people? I have often been greeted with a good morning, afternoon, in Latin America and the Caribbean which is quickly followed with a “how are you”. One of the biggest smiles and greetings came from a young woman in the United States who had various hair colors, tattoos, and piercings. But that a 70 plus, man would say “good morning” was a sign that this old man recognized her as a person. How many times do we not greet other people, especially those “not like us”. I consider everyone my sisters and brothers and all part of God’s creation. Thank you, and you’re welcome and  “please”. My youngest son played professional baseball. He did not make the majors but had a good five years in pro ball in the minors.. He was often asked for his autograph. But he wanted to hear a please and a thank you, because that is how he was raised and considered it a common courtesy. I am 73 years old, walk with a cane. In Latin America, I have been moved to the front of lines, given a seat on the bus or train. But this has also happened in Portugal the Caribbean  and the United States. I went to school in Arkansas, worked as a volunteer in Mississippi, and go every year to Georgia and indeed, have often been greeted “how ya’all doing”. I wonder if we do welcome the stranger. Have we become too self-centured, to individualistic, selfish? We cannot generalized, because we see many examples of please, thank you, and you’re welcome, even if it civility seems to be often  absent in Congress and elsewhere.   Peace and all good,   Roger Yockey,OFS

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