If you look up “chivalry” in the dictionary, you will find definitions that highlight the qualities idealized by knighthood. You will see things listed like bravery, courtesy, honor and gallantry. And boy does our society need more of all that!
A while back I saw an article that outlined ten acts a chivalrous husband should show his wife. They included things like opening every door for her. Holding her hand, a lot and for no specific special reason. Sheltering her as they walk along the sidewalk with his body on the street side.
He can coach his children on how to respect and serve their mother. Bringing coffee or tea to her in bed, washing her car before his and sharing in the household chores will speak volumes to his kids.
But good manners shouldn’t be reserved for just the gentlemen in our culture. Graciousness should transcend gender, age, ethnicity or cultural background. But it seems like such a dying “art” in my world. Looking out for number one is more than a lifestyle, it seems to be a misguided passion.
But some folks are taking some steps to push for a kinder and gentler community. In fact, in some places, people are literally paying others for good manners.
According to CBS New York, restaurants in New Jersey are giving a discount to customers who do not use their cell phones during dinner. (What a great way to encourage communication.) A burger chain in Texas is giving out discounts when they observe good manners as people eat in their cafes.
And my favorite was from the upper west side of NYC. The Kasbah Kosher Steakhouse gives a free dessert to a family when they see them praying before a meal!
Good manners may be out of style, but they are not out of order. A generous repertoire of “please” and “thank you” ought to permeate all our homes. Gracious acts by Dad can set the tone. Moms can serve and set the example for everyone else to follow. And everyone else can chime in too.
At work, we can do a million little things that suggest good manners. Good eye contact reinforces genuine concern in a conversation. Deferring to another in a discussion, giving up a seat to someone, getting coffee for a secretary, leaving a note of gratitude for the janitor…these are all simple acts of good manners.
So this week let’s all pause a bit and search out ways we can spruce up our manners. It will show and make a difference.