Dear Next Generation: Manners Matter

November 23, 2020 Updated: November 23, 2020

Today young people have an edge in understanding technology better than some of us grandpas, and they are good at teaching us what they know.

I am 88 years old now and know there are some things a person will not understand or think about if he or she has not lived through life experiences.

These are a few of my thoughts and findings from my life experience:

1. Respect other people’s opinions even if you disagree with them. This especially includes your parents.

2. Don’t judge other people … that’s God’s job.

3. Always be grateful for what others do for you or give you. They do not owe you anything. To show you are thankful is an important quality of a Christian.

4. Be confident, not arrogant. A thin line separates them. It’s a slippery slope.

5. Don’t try to be someone else, they are taken. You are the best YOU. Feel proud and good about that.

6. Don’t try to elevate yourself around others. If you are comfortable with yourself, are humble, compassionate, and a good listener to others, they will elevate you in their minds.

7. Lastly, if you want to feel good, do good for others. For example, do something thoughtful, randomly, for someone without expecting something in return.

Steve Osborn

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I came of age in the 1940s and ’50s, and etiquette was hammered into us by every adult, it seemed: parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, sometimes even neighbors. These are some of the rules we had to live by:

– Children are to be seen and not heard.
– Sit straight with both feet on the floor.
– Always say please and thank you.
– Always ask permission with a “May I…?”
– At meals, always wait until your hostess picks up a utensil before beginning to eat.
– Never begin eating before everyone has been served.
– “Ladies (and girls) first” in all things.
– Gentlemen open and hold doors for women.
– Gentlemen walk between women and the street on a sidewalk (presumably to protect them from splashing vehicles).

There were many more. Such rules of civility and etiquette seem arcane these days in our brave new world of women’s liberation, but something has been lost in that movement. Rudeness and incivility abound, and old-fashioned deference to women is often met with hostility. Lost along with good manners has been polite speech, common courtesy, and respect for others. Without those, life itself becomes ruder and cruder, and anger becomes more common. People become more self-centered and community begins to break down. Society as a whole also begins to break down and political conflict grows more widespread.

The younger generations would do well to learn and practice good manners (even if they seem dated); respect everyone, especially women and seniors, until they prove they don’t deserve your respect; do things in moderation and avoid extremes. Obey the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Live by the Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared,” and the Boy Scout Law: [Be] “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” Be self-sufficient as much as possible, but accept proffered help graciously when you need it, and then do the same for others.

The great western novelist, Louis L’Amour, once wrote that a man’s honor was everything, and if he lost it he would have nothing; he would no longer have friends, he could not borrow money, and he would be unable to find honest work. Honor is made up of all the things mentioned above—civility, manners, respect, kindness, moderation, but above all, honesty.

James Mulholland 

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What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?

We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong, and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time, and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.

Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to NextGeneration@epochtimes.com or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001