Please, Thank-You, and the Death of Common Decency

 

Remember when you were a child and your mother reminded you to say “please” when you asked your neighbor for another chocolate chip cookie? And if your “thank-you” wasn’t forthcoming, you’d hear, “Now what do you say”? These reminders were part of a ritual in my family home, and I never questioned them. Eventually I didn’t need to be coaxed, and grew to realize that these words were part of an effort to remind me that it was worthwhile to demonstrate common decency with each other. I just didn’t realize how difficult it would be to continue those rituals in a world consumed with rage.

We live in an age where the most primitive and angry behaviors are demonstrated every day: people are called Nazis, racists, white supremacists. Thugs hit people in the face who are walking on the sidewalk, for no apparent reason. In Israel, the Jews are called out for practicing a non-existent apartheid. On U.S. campuses, pro-Palestinian protestors enthusiastically demonstrate their hatred for Israel and Jews everywhere, and their support of murderers and rapists in the form of Hamas. The ugliness perpetuates the decline of understanding of how humans should minimally treat each other. And it only seems to be getting worse.

In this environment, it can be tough to maintain the vestiges of civility, even with those who have done nothing to harm us. When was the last time you said “please” to your spouse for getting something off a high shelf in the kitchen? When did you include “please” when you asked the store clerk to see if more of your favorite tomatoes might be available? And do you always follow up with a simple “thank you”?

In the larger public arena, I miss hearing expressions of gratitude. Instead, people indulge in accusations and insults, which may or may not be true.

When we say “please,” we are essentially recognizing the other person’s humanity. We are validating his or her value as a human being who is struggling in these times, right along with us. We are reminding the person that we all should rely on each other, to support and help each other. When we say “thank-you,” we are acknowledging that the person’s effort, large or small, has reassured us that there are generous, kind and understanding people, still, in the world.

Let’s take this religious season of Easter and Passover to honor the fact that we have all been created in the image of G-d; that we have much to be thankful for; and that we can do our best to maintain common decency, wherever we are.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    And of course I wish all my Christian friends a blessed Easter.

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    And of course I wish all my Christian friends a blessed Easter.

    Thank you Susan!

    • #2
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn: When we say “please,” we are essentially recognizing the other person’s humanity. We are validating his or her value as a human being who is struggling in these times, right along with us. We are reminding the person that we all should rely on each other, to support and help each other. When we say “thank-you,” we are acknowledging that the person’s effort, large or small, has reassured us that there are generous, kind and understanding people, still, in the world.

    The forces driving much of the left are post-Christian. It is the Judeo-Christian tradition that says human beings have value just by being humans. 

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    The forces driving much of the left are post-Christian. It is the Judeo-Christian tradition that says human beings have value just by being humans. 

    As I read what you said, it made my heart ache. Because you are right.

    • #4
  5. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Post Judeo-Christian indeed. 

    • #5
  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    The forces driving much of the left are post-Christian. It is the Judeo-Christian tradition that says human beings have value just by being humans.

    As I read what you said, it made my heart ache. Because you are right.

    Not that Christians have not murdered one another based on small differences of doctrine, of course. We don’t always do well following our teachings. 

    • #6
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Post Judeo-Christian indeed.

    Loved this! Thank you for sharing!

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Post Judeo-Christian indeed.

    Wow. What an alarming essay Naomi Wolfe has written. One paragraph that would sum up part of her premise, in discussin the premise of a Messianic Jewish minister:

    He argues that these negative but potentially powerful forces have been dormant for two millennia, by virtue of the Western Judeo-Christian covenant. [https://www.theoi.com/greek-mythology/personifications.html]. And that they have now taken this opportunity, of our turning away from God, and they have returned.

    We, thus, are the house that has been cleaned — by the covenant with the Judeo-Christian commitment. But we subsequently abandoned the house, he maintains, and left it vulnerable; open, for negative energies to re-enter.

    • #8
  9. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    That is one thing I liked about the military, mutual respect. It is visible in the salute. Civilians probably think it is lower ranks saluting higher ranks. No, the rank rule just establishes an order, who initiates the salute. The higher rank returns the salute. A good officer should make sure his salute is as sharp as the salute rendered to him. Not all officers are taught that. The sharpest salute I ever saw was from one of the MPs at the Hurlburt Field, FL gate. Not only was his salute sharp, but his uniform was, too.  I always tried to be as sharp as I could be to show him respect. I miss that respect. 

    • #9
  10. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    The forces driving much of the left are post-Christian. It is the Judeo-Christian tradition that says human beings have value just by being humans.

    As I read what you said, it made my heart ache. Because you are right.

    Not that Christians have not murdered one another based on small differences of doctrine, of course. We don’t always do well following our teachings.

    Christians do have a bloody history of wars and anti-semitism but Christians don’t have to continue that horrible tradition.

    I am a very big fan of George Washington and his letter to the Rhode Island Jews.

    https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-06-02-0135

    George Washington is generally regarded as Christian of a Protestant variety though an unusual one. However, he made it very clear that Catholics and Jews would enjoy equal citizenship. As he put it,

    It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

    Christians can be like George Washington. They are capable of transcending the history of pogroms and the wars between Catholics and Protestants.

    Be like George Washington.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    That is one thing I liked about the military, mutual respect. It is visible in the salute. Civilians probably think it is lower ranks saluting higher ranks. No, the rank rule just establishes an order, who initiates the salute. The higher rank returns the salute. A good officer should make sure his salute is as sharp as the salute rendered to him. Not all officers are taught that. The sharpest salute I ever saw was from one of the MPs at the Hurlburt Field, FL gate. Not only was his salute sharp, but his uniform was, too. I always tried to be as sharp as I could be to show him respect. I miss that respect.

    Thank you for these specifics, RH. I never knew. I wonder how well the military is maintaining that gesture now.

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Be like George Washington.

    I hold him and his letter in high esteem, too, Henry. It’s fascinating to think of him composing such a letter in his time.

    • #12
  13. QuietPI Member
    QuietPI
    @Quietpi

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    That is one thing I liked about the military, mutual respect. It is visible in the salute. Civilians probably think it is lower ranks saluting higher ranks. No, the rank rule just establishes an order, who initiates the salute. The higher rank returns the salute. A good officer should make sure his salute is as sharp as the salute rendered to him. Not all officers are taught that. The sharpest salute I ever saw was from one of the MPs at the Hurlburt Field, FL gate. Not only was his salute sharp, but his uniform was, too. I always tried to be as sharp as I could be to show him respect. I miss that respect.

    Amen.  What seems to civilians as sometimes silly “military courtesy” is in fact nothing more than common courtesy, albeit codified, and lost in the civilian world.  But what’s wrong with requiring people to treat each other with respect?  Many times I addressed some young soldier, relatively new to the service, grousing about having to show respect for somebody just because they’re a higher rank – “he puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like me.”  “Ah,” as I point out the obvious, “doesn’t he salute you in return?”  Oh . . . yeah.

    My first night at AIT (the job – specific training following basic), there was a commotion in an adjoining barracks.  Four individuals threw another down a stairwell, almost killing him.  The perps were of course immediately whisked away.  Days before the end of my training, the defendants returned for their Court Martial.  They ate in the dining hall.  I was surprised that, having been in custody for months, that they would have been thoroughly trained to show respect to others.  On the contrary.  As they walked, they kept their eyes on the ground, and saluted no one.  I asked one of the drill sergeant about that.  He explained that prisoners are not allowed to salute anybody.  I was never an anti-saluter, but that cemented my appreciation of military courtesy.  

    I’m a habitually very polite person.  Most of the time.  When I was Section Sergeant of an infantry battalion’s medical section, I found that I had to explain to newcomers to the section, if I said “please” after giving an order, that didn’t turn it into a question.  It was still an order!

    • #13
  14. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    That is one thing I liked about the military, mutual respect. It is visible in the salute. Civilians probably think it is lower ranks saluting higher ranks. No, the rank rule just establishes an order, who initiates the salute. The higher rank returns the salute. A good officer should make sure his salute is as sharp as the salute rendered to him. Not all officers are taught that. The sharpest salute I ever saw was from one of the MPs at the Hurlburt Field, FL gate. Not only was his salute sharp, but his uniform was, too. I always tried to be as sharp as I could be to show him respect. I miss that respect.

    Thank you for these specifics, RH. I never knew. I wonder how well the military is maintaining that gesture now.

    We go to Ft Jackson several times a year for PX, Class 6, and commissary goods. The gate guards  are contracted civilians, not MPs. The basic trainees don’t visit those places until family day before graduation. Since I am in civies, I am not saluted. My summer baseball team hosts Ft Jackson trainees one night and fills the seats with those about to graduate. . I love talking to them and they are so much fun and very polite. The baseball team feeds them and boy can they eat. The players entertain them. I wouldn’t worry about the young troops. 

    • #14
  15. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The forces driving much of the left are post-Christian. It is the Judeo-Christian tradition that says human beings have value just by being humans.

    It is a moral system which implicitly challenges and thus threatens any such totalitarian system.

    • #15
  16. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Susan Quinn: When we say “please,” we are essentially recognizing the other person’s humanity.

    The same can be said for a whole raft of customs and rituals. Forms of address. Gestures. Verbal tropes.

    One feature of the sixties culture was an assault on many of these customs and rituals as “inauthentic”.

    • #16
  17. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    When I was a little kid, the neighborhood expectation was that if you ran into Alice Jones on the sidewalk (she was 90ish), you would put one forearm across your waist, the other behind your back, bow at the waist and say “Good afternoon, Miss Jones.”

    • #17
  18. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Post Judeo-Christian indeed.

    The link:

    What we have lived through since 2020 is so sophisticated, so massive, so evil, and executed in such inhumane unison, that it cannot be accounted for without venturing into metaphysics. Something else, something metaphysical, must have done that. And I speak as a devoted rationalist.

    I concluded that I was starting to believe in God in more literal terms than I had before, because this evil was so impressive; so it must be directed at something at least as powerful that was all good.

    I like that.

    Another one making the same inference:

    https://ricochet.com/1508229/halloween-quote-of-the-day-if-there-are-devils-there-must-also-be-gods/

    • #18
  19. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Susan Quinn: When we say “please,” we are essentially recognizing the other person’s humanity. We are validating his or her value as a human being who is struggling in these times, right along with us. We are reminding the person that we all should rely on each other, to support and help each other. When we say “thank-you,” we are acknowledging that the person’s effort, large or small, has reassured us that there are generous, kind and understanding people, still, in the world.

    The whole point of ritual in Confucianism is humanity.

    https://ricochet.com/1376368/confucianism-is-awsome/

    In that post I didn’t explain it, but I think maybe you just did.

    • #19
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Eeyore (View Comment):

    When I was a little kid, the neighborhood expectation was that if you ran into Alice Jones on the sidewalk (she was 90ish), you would put one forearm across your waist, the other behind your back, bow at the waist and say “Good afternoon, Miss Jones.”

    Seriously? What a lovely gesture.

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    In that post I didn’t explain it, but I think maybe you just did.

    Thanks, St. A.

    • #21
  22. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    That is one thing I liked about the military, mutual respect. It is visible in the salute. Civilians probably think it is lower ranks saluting higher ranks. No, the rank rule just establishes an order, who initiates the salute. The higher rank returns the salute. A good officer should make sure his salute is as sharp as the salute rendered to him.

    I learn something new and valuable like this often on Ricochet.  I salute it, and you the officer who wrote it.

    • #22
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: When we say “please,” we are essentially recognizing the other person’s humanity.

    The same can be said for a whole raft of customs and rituals. Forms of address. Gestures. Verbal tropes.

    One feature of the sixties culture was an assault on many of these customs and rituals as “inauthentic”.

    The juvenile eventually comes to the idea that empty kindness is stupid compared to full malice – but will usually grow out of it the hard way. The dedicated iconoclast will chip away at caryatids until the ceiling falls in on him. 

    • #23
  24. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    TBA (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: When we say “please,” we are essentially recognizing the other person’s humanity.

    The same can be said for a whole raft of customs and rituals. Forms of address. Gestures. Verbal tropes.

    One feature of the sixties culture was an assault on many of these customs and rituals as “inauthentic”.

    The juvenile eventually comes to the idea that empty kindness is stupid compared to full malice – but will usually grow out of it the hard way. The dedicated iconoclast will chip away at caryatids until the ceiling falls in on him.

    A nice metaphor.

    • #24
  25. Ray Gunner Coolidge
    Ray Gunner
    @RayGunner

    “It starts when you begin to overlook good manners.  Anytime you quit hearing Sir and Mam the end is pretty much in sight.”

    -Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Ray Gunner (View Comment):

    “It starts when you begin to overlook good manners. Anytime you quit hearing Sir and Mam the end is pretty much in sight.”

    -Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men

    Excellent. My husband and I were just discussing Trey Gowdy on his Sunday night show. He always concludes his interviews with “yes, sir,” or “yes, ma’am.” I used to tease Boss Mongo about calling me “ma’am.” Now I wish I could hear it.

    • #26
  27. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Ray Gunner (View Comment):

    “It starts when you begin to overlook good manners. Anytime you quit hearing Sir and Mam the end is pretty much in sight.”

    -Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men

    Excellent. My husband and I were just discussing Trey Gowdy on his Sunday night show. He always concludes his interviews with “yes, sir,” or “yes, ma’am.” I used to tease Boss Mongo about calling me “ma’am.” Now I wish I could hear it.

    Manners and sweet tea – I love the South. Sadly, rudeness is creaping in among the young.

    • #27
  28. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Ray Gunner (View Comment):

    “It starts when you begin to overlook good manners. Anytime you quit hearing Sir and Mam the end is pretty much in sight.”

    -Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men

    Excellent. My husband and I were just discussing Trey Gowdy on his Sunday night show. He always concludes his interviews with “yes, sir,” or “yes, ma’am.” I used to tease Boss Mongo about calling me “ma’am.” Now I wish I could hear it.

    I miss Boss Mongo calling me Mam as well. Long story.

    • #28
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    miss Boss Mongo calling me Mam as well. Long story.

    I can’t wait to hear that story someday…

    • #29
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