Civility i.e. good manners

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Ma. Isabel Ongpin

Ma. Isabel Ongpin

I think we all need to be more civil with each other and even with ourselves. The current urban situation (and perhaps the situation in the provinces too with the untrammeled and fast growth they are enduring), is enough to raise tensions and make us react precipitately, lashing out our frustrations, pain and anger at the nearest neighbor. It is difficult to adjust to change and if it comes with incivility, it releases ill-will and its consequences.|

Civility means cooling off before acting, or being deliberate and logical about how to conduct oneself in the face of discomfort, adversity or challenges to one’s well-being. It follows the principle of thinking of others along with thinking of oneself and coming to a workable middle ground.

So, in traffic we should consciously be courteous even if others are not. We should keep cool even if the situation is maddening. We should follow the traffic rules even if others do not. And if we are late, or get into an accident, civility should be ascendant and communication to others should be as neutral and polite as possible. The abandonment of civility is a perilous path that in the case of present road conditions can lead to road rage incidents of which there are too many to enumerate along with their dire consequences that are irreparable.

Civility in traffic situations, whether they be within transport facilities or while one is driving, will take away aggravation and may even improve matters as to mobility. Driving with discipline is one very good way to alleviate the traffic overload we have. It will not stop traffic jams but it will alleviate the situation and lessen the tension. It will and should stop motorists from using guns and other weapons, including verbal abuse. The traffic mess is a given, therefore, we should behave in a way that improves it rather than worsens it, with good manners rather than bad, with utmost civility. The bottom line is to put yourself in the place of others and see it their way without lying to yourself.


Another area where civility is most needed is in cyber space. Apparently, Facebook and other social media are full of netizens insulting and provoking each other. The differences of opinion of the loyal against those critical of a leader or a cause should be conducted within a level of civility.

It is expected that persons using computers and other gadgets should be educated enough to respect the parameters of their use. They should be for communication, intelligent and focused discussion that will lead to the enlightenment of observers or participants.

But lately, these communication lines, modern, new and efficient as they are, are debased with gutter language from insults, accusations, sweeping statements, falsehoods and even a kind of conspiracy towards baiting people to behave badly by behaving badly at the onset.

Sometimes, social media is used to extensively promote an untruth to everyone’s dismay or to promote someone’s bad intentions. Lack of evidence does not seem to stop criminal activities in cyber space like libel or slander. So much so that it may soon become the norm to the detriment of all who witness it.

Imagine if we did not have a standard of table manners, a form of civility that has made our eating together a matter of satisfying décorum instead of a feeding frenzy with all the bad manners attendant. This is why good manners are always needed and should always be followed in all human activities, especially collateral activities where we have to work with each other.

It would help if public figures will conduct themselves accordingly and set a standard of civility that should be followed.

Whether conditions in life are good or bad, man is still a social animal and must remember to be a good and positive member of the human race, kind and unselfish to his neighbor.

Good Manners and Right Conduct, a subject from the past, usually is unlamented. That is a mistake. We need it more than ever today.

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