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Brainstorm: The Next Generation | Uncommon Courtesy

There is something seriously wrong with many of our young people today. It seems that they simply don’t know, or choose to ignore, common courtesies that are normally expected.

Just a couple of days ago, as I was entering the airport in Mactan, Cebu, I saw a lady, maybe in her late 60s or early 70s, struggling to put her large suitcase on the x-ray machine’s ramp. What was shocking to me was that there were two young men right beside her who were just watching her.
Instinctively, I cut in and said “Ako na po Ma’am” while lifting the suitcase on to the ramp. What I found to be a little strange was how surprised she, and the two young men, were. She smiled when she thanked me but the two had knit eyebrows staring in wonderment.

Why were they surprised? Am I wrong? Is my perception of what the norm should be no longer the case? If this is so, then it is a sad and regrettable degradation of expected behavior.

I mean if this had happened when I was much younger and I had been the one right beside her with my mother behind me, I would have gotten smacked on the head if I did not immediately help the lady.

I grew up knowing that it is a common courtesy for younger people to help older ones who need it.

Common Courtesy. “Common” because, it is expected that everyone should know and abide by these customary acts of kindness because it is supposed to be the norm. This is something that is learned not just in school but, more importantly, at home.

I remember my mother threatening to have me eat a kilo of “Upo” whenever I forgot to use “Po” or “Opo” when talking to someone older than me. Since I hated eating vegetables, this was a very real and effective threat against me.
Thinking about it, I must say that I have, indeed, noticed a steady decline in the observance of such, supposedly common, courtesies.

Young people seldom give up their seats on a bus or waiting area even if there is a senior citizen or pregnant lady standing beside them. Very rarely do you see a young man holding a door open for a lady or some older person. Unless it is a beautiful girl that he has his eyes on, young men hardly offer to carry a heavy load for someone else or to help someone who is either vertically challenged, or struggling with the weight of carry-on luggage, to put it in an airplane’s overhead bin.

I feel very uncomfortable when I do these things out of instinct and get praised for it because, as far as I know, you are not supposed to be praised for doing something that is simply expected of you. In our native Bisaya, “Mahilasan ko”. You do it because it is the right thing to do.

What has happened? Why have these common courtesies become so uncommon? Is there something wrong with the way that we are bringing up our children or has the modern world made people so egocentric, or focused on one’s own interests and concerns, that we already fail to see the people and the world around us and what we can do to make it better.

We must not forget that each kindness we do for others, no matter how small, makes the world a little better. If more and more people are kind to each other, our world would truly be so much better to live in.

As I stated in my Facebook post right after the Cebu incident, “BE NICE, IT DOESN’T COST MUCH AND IT MAKES PEOPLE HAPPY.”

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