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Monday, March 06, 2006

Common Courtesy

Paul Kurtz had an editorial in the Dec/Jan 06 issue of Free Inquiry magazine (which I highly recommend) about the Pursuit of Excellence, in which he states:

... if an open democratic society cherishes the right of privacy, at the same time it needs to encourage the cultivation of excellence and nobility. It should endeavor to raise the levels of taste and appreciation by means of education and persuasion.

According to Kurtz, this goal can be accomplished through moral education (develop moral character and reasoning), cultural education (elevate aesthetic appreciation and sensitivity) and the development of intellectual talent (a good liberal arts education).

Well, I would like to suggest an additional target be included with the three above; teaching common courtesy. I think if we can bring back a lot of the little niceties and polite behavior that we seem to have forgotten, the world will be a much better place for everyone.

While I'm sure everyone has their own pet peeves, here are some of my favorites:

Please keep your gum to yourself. If you're in your own house, or car, or by yourself on a desert island, by all means, chew as much gum as you want. But when you are with other people, please swallow it or get rid of it. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to hear you chewing your gum, especially when you are oblivious to all the snap, crackle and popping produced by your chewing. When I'm in a movie theater and I can't hear the dialogue over your gum chewing, you have the problem, not me. And your coworkers will thank me, because trust me, they are about ready to go postal on your ass after having to listen to you for the past 10 years.

Please eat with your mouth closed. Not only is the sound of your smacking just as annoying as gum chewing (see above), but the sight of saliva-drenched, half-chewed food in your mouth is downright repulsive. Trust me, I'm doing you a favor here. I've known people who have lost business deals over lunch because their table manners were so atrocious. Cows chewing their cud belong in a field, not at the dinner table.

Ask for permission, don't assume you have it. For example, if you are selling your house and you want to put a for sale sign on my front yard because I have a good location, all you have to do is ask. You see, I spend a lot of money paying a yard service to keep my lawn looking nice. Therefore, I don't want a for sale sign right in the middle of my yard, ruining the aesthetic beauty. Thus, I will be more than happy to let you put your sign in my yard, but it will be over toward the side yard. And if you insist on putting your sign up anyway without asking me, don't get angry when I move your sign or throw it in the trash.

OK, this one may be a little controversial, but I think that people should at least make an effort not to bring their cold/flu symptoms with them to work or other public places. I realize that we can't avoid getting sick and I understand that there will be symptoms such as runny noses, coughing, etc... I'm not asking for a complete sickness free environment. But there are over the counter medications that will help alleviate your symptoms and make you feel better at the same time (you see, we both win). You could try blowing or wiping your nose every once in a while instead of trying to create the biggest snot-loogey known to man. There is a difference between someone making an attempt to keep their symptoms down to a reasonable level and those who just let it all out without concern for the others around them.

Flush the toilet in public restrooms. If you are a germophobe, then use your foot. Seriously, were you born in a barn?

Don't barge into elevators. Guess what? There may be some people who want to get off on the very floor you are standing on. It's going to be kind of hard for them to exit when you are blocking the door. I've nearly lost teeth from head on collisions. If you have a problem restraining yourself, just remember this simple rule, "You are not the only one in the building".

Please feel free to leave your own suggestions. Together, we can make the world a nicer place.


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