Where opinions matter – mind your manners

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MIND your manners! It’s a catch-phrase from the past but couldn’t it be put to good use today?

Society is slipping. Every-day we tolerate:

Fewer people keeping to the left when walking, shopping or riding bikes (despite council signs).

Students on public transport or school excursions, accompanied by teachers, making little allowance for others.

People with their feet and bags on train seats and ignored by ticket inspectors.

A young man asking a stranger for the time without a please or a thank you.

People leaving all their rubbish behind in theatres, despite rubbish bins at exits.

Theatre-goers with their feet on the seats in front.

Nurses, police officers, parking inspectors and public officials defied and ignored.

The question is: When are we truly going to take stock of ourselves?

Offenders give all their excuses to the police and the courts, blaming others. School students get family members to do their home assignments and tests for them. Little kids’ mothers cheat for them.

Plenty of people are excelling, breaking new ground and making their marks in society. They are winning scholarships and earning skills that launch them into the high-tech, new age stratosphere.

But at the other end, society is being dragged down. When New York authorities cracked down on minor crime and misdemeanours, it reduced major crimes. It made New Yorkers feel better about themselves. And safer.

Sure, every generation bleats about the good old days when standards were higher.

“Why can’t they be like we were? Perfect in every way. What’s the matter with kids today?” It’s a great old song line.

But it’s not just kids. It’s coming from their parents. The parents who aren’t home for their kids after school, parents who dump their problems and issues on schools and authorities. Parents who fail to feed their children nutritiously and send them to school with a poor excuse for a  lunch.

Inattentive young mums pushing their prams while walking their dogs and talking on mobile phones. Blokes spitting on the footpath. Bus drivers being abused. Agro in clubs and pubs.

The world has become vastly more advanced, living standards are the highest in history, those at the top have never made as much money, medical and other scientific breakthroughs are improving and extending human life, we have a better understanding of nature, the earth and the cosmos.

At the other end, however, our standards are spilling out. We are belly-soft on fundamentals such as manners, courtesies and respect for authority and our seniors.

It’s surely reached the stage when we have to say: Enough is enough. And stop making excuses.

We need to stop the rot. To have some collective backbone. Take responsibility for our actions and reinforce our support for decency at all levels.

It is done in totalitarian societies but, considering past dictators, that’s hardly desirable.

There is widespread lack of faith in politicians and politics. Politicians themselves are breaking the rules or thumbing their noses. It all about what they – and businesses like the banks – can get for themselves. Or at least, that’s the widespread public perception.

The WA Inc Royal Commission didn’t uncover vast crimes but plenty of moral breaches, self-interest and cover-ups.

We Australians pride ourselves on our relaxed, care-free, fair-go way of life. But ask yourself, are you happy living in the current climate?

Do you accept the chipping away of standards for the next generations?

Do we continue to turn our backs on unpleasant behaviour by a minority?

Do we take the risk of being abused or attacked for speaking out against public misbehaviour?

The issue won’t get solved by burying our heads in the sand. We’re not taking enough responsibility for our actions or our children’s. And society is paying a high price. What can be done?

Community and school awareness programs are needed, politicians need to respond to the experts and those who have been calling out. Support groups need more support. Money and resources need redirecting to these issues undermining our society.

Society needs to show support for our teachers, law enforcement, nurses and public officials. They are bearing the brunt of an ugly side of life. Every day.

A unified community with a common goal can make worthwhile inroads, perhaps even stop the rot.

What do you think?

Email us at info@haveagonews.com.au with Manners in the subject line or head to our Facebook page to write your thoughts.
You can also write to us at Opinion c/- Have a Go News PO Box 1042, West Leederville 6901.