22 August 2007

Where have all the kind people gone?

This is a rant that I need to get off my chest. It not specifically to do with simple living, although I do think it's part of it. You could easily not read what is coming, if you're feeling a bit fragile, please close this window now and return tomorrow. I'll be back to normal by then as I'll feel like I've been heard. LOL

I believe one of the most important things I was taught, and in turn taught my own children, was good manners. It's made my life easier as I'm sure you are accepted by others when you respect them and their property and show courtesy and graciousness when you're with other people. Things have changed. I know this but I've failed to comment on it before - neither here nor in my own life.

When we were away, I noticed that people aren't as polite as they should be, and the lack of courtesy and good manners shone out like a beacon. On two occasions, H was the only person to help a very old lady with a walking stick to get down from the train onto the platform, and again help a man with a wheelchair who was walking on the stumps of two amputated legs. Both these people were standing on the other side of a queue to get off the train and the queue we were in just all filed on out - not one of them stopped and let these people go ahead, let alone offer any form of assistance. H stepped up, stopped the queue and brought the lady forward, took her walking stick and gave it to me as the lady asked for H to go before her and help her down with both hands. Naturally he complied with her wishes. The man with the wheelchair was in a similar situation - he was waiting for the queue on the other side to stop, so he could manoeuvre his wheel chair onto the platform and alight. H stopped the queue again and asked what help this man wanted. He asked H to put the wheelchair on the platform and he could do the rest.

What really made me angry was that not one person in the queue filing off the train thought to help - they all filed past without thinking they might need to offer help. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE! Where are the manners we were all taught? What happened to helping the old and frail? We do not have to be living simply to know that we must help others all through our lives but it seems that unless we've slowed down enough to notice, these people will be left, abandoned by the very people who should help them.

It's not good enough to say they didn't notice. I don't believe it. On my blog here there is a stitchery sampler I stitched a few years ago. I think a couple of the sayings on it should be tattooed to the foreheads of everyone on that train. GIVE MORE, EXPECT LESS, SHOW RESPECT. There are a lot of people saying that there is a lack of respect shown by children nowadays but how can children show respect when it isn't modeled for them by their parents. Children learn what they see - respect, generosity, kindness and willingness to help need to be part of our lives. Sadly it looks like these qualities are a thing of the past for many modern Australians.

We will soon return to our regularly scheduled program.


  1. I too am often amazed at people's rudeness. On a Melbourne tram a few years ago I noticed a woman struggling to hold her baby and balance herself (she was standing at the other end of the tram). No-one seemed inclined to offer their seats and it was really dangerous. I stood up and yelled to her to come and take my seat - which she most graciously did after making her way past all other people standing. I know everyone thinks their entitled to their seat (or in your case their place in the line) but when does it hurt to offer a seat or assistance to someone who needs it. Another one that gets my goat is when lining up at somewhere like Big W and a new cashier opens up. I like to offer the next person to go in front on me but everyone from behind races up. Why can't people patiently wait their turn? Hope your rant helped - it's certainly helped me.

    Libby (who's been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now)

  2. I totally agree with you Rhonda. People used to comment to me all the time about how polite my children were and I think now as adults this has helped them make their way through life.
    I think one of the problems is people's fear of litigation. It is a sad fact of life that people can and do get sued for just about anything, including helping other people.
    I always treat people how I wish to be treated and hopefully this spreads good karma.

  3. Swings and roundabouts. I have just had a great long weekend followed by my first day in a new job and was touched by a number of random little acts of kindness afforded me during those few days - an unexpected lift from the airport, the unexpected gift of a precious piece of family memorabilia from my 90 year old aunt, generous sharing of a bottle of wine and a too big dessert at a school reunion lunch, and a lovely big cup of cappucino brought to my new desk to welcome me to on my first day. Nice things are still going on all over - maybe all those people on the train were just feeling stressed and harried by problems in their unsimplified lives - I'm sure their attitudes will improve after witnessing your and your husband's fine example, Rhonda. Just keep being nice yourself - what goes around comes around eventually. :-)

  4. Sometimes you see awful manners, sometimes good.

    I remember being 39 weeks pregnant on a 38 degree day, and travelling on a tram. There were no seats available. The conductor saw me and yelled at some schoolkids, "would you get up and give this girl a seat?" -- nice of him but rather embarrassing. There are no tram conductors anymore, of course.

    Just last week I had a call from a bus driver saying my son had left his wallet on the bus. He said that if he could be waiting at a certain bustop at 4.45 he would drive past and give it to him. I thought that was a lovely show of kindness, service and good manners.

  5. Oh Rhonda some people are awful. My S helped an elderly lady the other day she had lost her husband recently just after a knee replacement. Her car had over heated and no-one helped her S noticed her on his way into the shopping centre and when he was returning to the car she was still there. He put some water in the radiator for her and she was fine. God love her she offered him $10 for his trouble. Of course he refused.

  6. Nice to have you back and glad to see your not keeping this to yourself. I have a friend "Thelma" who will be 104 years old tomorrow. She has taught me so much about respect and helping others in need. At times people laugh at me because they think my ways are archaic. I don't care what they think because I've been taught well and Thelma simply taught me to treat others the way I want to be treated. My little girl will be hearing a lot of Thelma's words of wisdom from me. We will also be visiting Thelma tomorrow to wish her a Happy Birthday.

    I'm glad you and H are home safe.

  7. it's digusting how ill mannered some people are ~ I feel that part of it is selfishness ~ people are too "into" what they're doing. It's no excuse though.....

  8. So many words of wisdom. I too often notice this lack of respect and compassion for others. I try not to go out in the hustle-bustle world too much, as this is when I notice it more.

  9. If my daughter ever behaves like this, I promise to kill her.

    But she never would.

    Sad, isn't it?

    I was disabled, for awhile. I had no balance. People used to push past me, so that I would fall over. Nobody ever helped me up.

    I never forgot it.

  10. I totally agree, Rhonda, with the rudeness of people these days...What our God has created and desired for families, is so often not there anymore...Children are half raising themselves because of the "competitive" world we live in and both parents working...All too often the reasons behind it all is because of "stuff" rather than the nurturing and quality time we should be desiring with our families....then when we're all grown up, the rudeness is there and no consideration for others, as they've not had that nurturing, so consequently somewhat raised themselves and obtained the "all about me" tendencies of life...It's so wrong and not how our God intended it to be....All too often, the "Family Setting" has falled by the wayside, because of superficial desires and the competitiveness of our world today...I cherish, so much, the families who are creative in every way, spending time together, nurturing the babies, working the land/home and just loving every minute of it...they learn to share/love/care/give in every way, because they've been taught....And this way of life continues on with them, caring and helping others, when needed.....Just the simple word "Caring"...I'm with you Rhonda...Where has all the concern for others gone? You have a blessed day...I've enjoyed visiting with you....Bonnie B.

  11. kindness, compassion, respect, courtesy? they're all out of fashion these days, it seems. makes for a much sadder world, i think.

    i try to instill these qualities in my children in hopes that when they leave our little pond for a bigger one, the ripple effect will take hold.

    thank you for sharing your thoughts today! maybe it will inspire a few RAKs in the world!

  12. Thanks for writing this. I find myself upset by things like this all the time - people not getting up to offer seats on buses, or moving to less than three deep while walking to let a stroller through on the sidewalk, or just offering to help someone out a little bit, even when it's not out of their way. I try, as much as possible, to help lift strollers, carry packages, give directions, and offer assistance, and I find it hugely frustrating when people just don't bother. Perhaps they have their reasons, but often I suspect those reasons are just being far too focused on themselves and their needs to the exclusion of others.

  13. Look at you inspiring folks to remember their manners! What those rude people did has now inspired folks around the world to go out and be a little nicer! Yeah to you and yours for setting such a great example!

  14. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    They aren't living in the US either. LOL The other day I seen an old lady in a walker trying to push 2 cart full of grocies to her car and noone offered to help her. So I went over and took her stuff to her car put them in the trunk and then helped her in the car. I couldn't beleive how many men walked right by her.
    Dave and I have this discussion all the time about how we are living in a me world.

  15. I feel the same way, though to me the issue is less about "manners" (which can depend on culture and context), than about basic human compassion and kindness.

  16. Rhonda Jean, it surprises me how impatient and lacking in compassion some people can be. The things I notice most is the disrespect shown to the elderly and the intolerance for the young. We were all young once and hopefully one day we will all be old. If people could bear that in mind the world would be a much better place. Besides which, performing a random act of kindness for someone also gives the bearer a wonderful feeling. It truly is better to give than receive. I hope you felt better getting that rant off your chest! I know I sure did!:-)

  17. I had a similar discussion with my daughter-in-law just yesterday. She decided to travel on a tram with her daughter in a stroller, something she has never done before. She needed to get on and off the tram a number of times and after struggling the first time she made a point of looking straight at the nearest able bodied person and asking that person politely would he/she mind helping her to lift the stroller up and each time it was done willingly and with a smile but no one offered before she asked, in fact everyone looked the other way when she got to the door.

    Good manners just don't seem to be valued by some people any more.

  18. I agree too Rhonda, my husband and I would like to think that we are teaching our little one manners and respect. I have seen this too many times myself with the old just left to their own devices. We help when we see them in a situaton thats needs assistance and cant beleive that many people just go on by and even rush past almost knocking them over. We too get loads of comments regarding our 3 and half years olds manners.
    Good job Rhonda in airing your feelings on this rather important subject, I hope that I can get some help from young people when Im older too. Marlo

  19. Ah, Rhonda, it is a sad state of affairs, isn't it. Here in America it is just as bad, if not worse, in some places! My children are being raised to be very conscious of those around us, that might need our help, or at the very least, a kind word. So many are shocked when my son or daughter, especially my 7yo son, stop and help someone in need, or just open a door for someone. It should not be shocking, but it is to most people.
    I linked to your blog from Jewels' blog and I am so glad I did. You have a very lovely blog. I will try to visit again soon!

  20. I truly believe in karma and what you give out you receive back. All we can do is try to set a good example for our children and those people out there with no manners. I always treat people the way i would like to be treated and if they are nasty to me I am sickeningly nice. Keep smiling Rhonda and nice to see you too like to vent sometimes!

  21. I think it perhaps comes down to responsibilities. We, as a culture feel that responsibilities are rather hindering. Why should we be responsible for a person we neither know or care about when we've got to get to work, or to the shops before the good sale stuff has all gone?...So we kind of ignore those who are in need and pretend we don't see. It's a very sad state of affairs but we seem to no longer feel responsible for one and other any more. And yet we have it in us to be good and kind and well mannered, it just takes a shift in cultural norms with one or two of us taking a stand and doing as we shoul..."love thy neighbour as thyself".

  22. Today in the supermarket there was an elderly woman having trouble getting a can off the shelf and my husband went over to help her she was very surprised and thanked him several times. We have always given a hand when we see someone in need.
    Today most people don't seem to care and will just stare and do nothing, we were brought up to respect our elders and to help others.

  23. Here, here...you have said what I've been thinking for years...my husband and I try to instill in our children manners...the same manners our parents instilled in us...and you would think we were from some other planet...Silly me, I expect my 13 yo son to hold the door for me and my daughters and his grandmothers--as a sign of respect--and when I wait for him to do it some folks look at us like we are nuts...It isn't just Australians that need refresher courses in common courtesy...Californians do too!

  24. I, too, had an experience at 39 weeks pregnant standing on a bus in the Netherlands. After nearly losing my balance several times on curves (my heavy belly leading the topple) a very elderly lady with a cane offered me her seat, but I refused her, being taught to proffer my seat to those older than I am. I'm always quick to help others, but your rant as inspired me to be more vigilant, and to make sure my children are also quick to help others.

  25. Rhonda, I often despair at the rudeness and the unkindness and the disrespectfulness that abounds these days. I know there have always been rude people, however it seems to me that, today, people simply don't care. It makes me wonder if they really care somewhere deep inside and simply don't know what to do and so do nothing? That doesn't explain no-one else helping H with the people in your story though, does it? I don't know what the answer is.

    When my children were very young I had a friend with children of similar ages who said she would not teach her children to respect others - others had to earn it, by demonstrating to her children they were worthy of respect. I'm not sure what she meant by this really, and not long after she moved overseas and I don't see them anymore. If her children used her as an example, they may have sadly grown into intolerant, judgemental young adults by now.

    Fortunately I see many examples of caring and kindness around me on a regular basis. This week in the bank, for instance, when a young woman with a very young baby began wailing in a corner, apparently about some money that had gone missing, she was ignored by everyone (it was pretty loud!); I was about to go over to her when a woman closer to her stepped out of the loooong queue and very quietly went to her assistance. I think she must have been a counsellor of some type, because of her calm manner and the way in which she was talking.

    Normally if I see someone offering a kind gesture or assisting someone, I like to acknowledge and encourage it by getting their attention and saying "that was very kind of you to do that" etc etc.

    I go out of my way (and it really ain't difficult, y'know!!) to be pleasant to people everywhere. I despair at all the serious faces but I smile at many people in the street or on a train, and it's great to see a smile returned. I tend to focus more on older people, children (including teenagers!) and young mums with prams simply because I think they get a rough deal and not everyone understands them.

    Often when I feel disgruntled about uncaring people, I go home and have a good solid chat with my children. I'm so pleased that they are turning out to be caring, thinking individuals.

    Pay if forward, pay it back - lead by example!

  26. Oh Man! I couldn't agree more with all that has been said! I am so thankful that my parents taught me to be a giving, caring person (or god gave that to me!) :) I manage a Dollar General store, and we have Lots of older folks come in to get alot of their canned goods and other items. those bags can get heavy! I never over load the bags so that they are too heavy, and if at all possible I bring the sacks out to the car for them. My daughter came down to the store one day when one of my usual elderly ladies came in. She had a cart full! I wondered how she would even get it all in the house. I had my daughter help me load her car and then I sent my daughter home with her to helop her get it all in the house! LOL I picked her up again after work. That lady was so appreciative of that little act of kindness and it blessed my heart to be able to help her. I cant imagine walking past someone in need! this worl never ceases to amaze me... how sad!

  27. It doesn't surprise me that all of you are also appalled at this sort of behaviour. Thank you for telling your own stories. I suppose it doesn't surprise me to know this is not just happening in Australia. I hope the pendulum swings back the other way soon.

  28. Hi,
    The lack of respect is not something only for Australians, I think it's a world thing. Here in The Netherlands it's not any different.
    We try to bring up our children with respect for others and nature, but have to watch them go to school and be influenced by their pears. When they get home you have to set them dtraight again. It's hard to raise children in these times. Especially when you want to bring up your children with old, but still great, values.

  29. Maybe it sounds rude, but I would always prefer a good heart to good manners... that's the biggest thing that changed, the people are still the same, some are evil, some are kind, just nowadays it is no more prohibited to show what's in ones heart in the public. But I really think that good manners will come back, as soon as they realize how small the world really is, and how every action creates waves and changes which finally pay back one day. The second point would be, in some areas (like where I live) the "helpless" people too often happen to be robbers or gang beggars, and before you realize what happened you will have a knife in your back, just because they wanted your purse... I still remember how a cute and innocent looking about 8-year old tried to get money from me with the help of a switchblade, it took me about one hour of talking non stop to make him change his mind (I could not run away as I was sitting and he held the knife right in my face). It can be tough to still stay helpful and kind, and if then there is somebody who really needs help the people just do not notice anymore...

  30. This is my first comment and I agree completely with what you said. I am a Southern girl and I had good manners ingrained in me from my earliest memories. Things like Yes ma'am and No sir, Please, Thank you, and excuse me are becoming a foreign language. And I'm very sad to say that I see bad behavior in people of all ages. Even seniors seem to think in some cases that because they've lived as long as they have that they've earned the right to act however they desire.

    As the mother of a teen and an almost teen, I teach my children that the world naturally assumes they will be lazy, have a bad attitude, or be ill-mannered. I tell them I expect them to prove the world wrong. Thankfully, so far,they are exceeding my expectations. Can you tell that this topic is one I'm passionate about?

    I'm very much enjoying your archives, by the way!

  31. there is one thing your overlooking while having this rant dear Rhonda, someone did help the man in the wheel chair, your husband, which makes him a good man, and the fact that everyone before him didn't help, gave him the opportunity to help. There is something i always say if it's written to happen, its going to happen;if its not going to, well its not.


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