Is Chivalry Dead?

chivalryA while back, my nephew and I met for dinner at the local Olive Garden (his choice).  It was right in the middle of their busiest time on the weekend and we would have to wait almost an hour.  The lobby was packed with hungry people waiting for their names to be called.  All of the benches were taken. It was standing room only.

Shortly after we arrived, a couple that was sitting nearby was called and we just happened to be standing next to them.  Quickly, we took the two seats, and both reached for our smart phones, Matthew to play games, and me to check email.

As I looked up, a woman with a small baby in arms was near us and her mother stood next to her holding the hand of a little girl.  My childhood upbringing kicked in as I rose to offer her my seat.

With baby in arms, she looked at me and said, “Really? Take your seat?”  “Sure,” I replied, as she looked at me as if this was the first time someone had ever offered her their seat.  My nephew spotting her mom holding the young girl’s hand , quickly stood and made room for them to sit.

As the mother took the seat, she said to us, “Thank you, I thought chivalry was dead!”  What I thought was just being nice was called chivalry!

Growing up in the 50’s, we were taught manners.  Here are a few things we learned that are missing today;

  • We hold the door open for other people, especially if they are carrying a child or groceries.
  • We helped little old ladies cross the street.
  • We made eye contact with people.
  • We said hello and acknowledge people, if they entered the room.
  • We offered our seat on the bus to an elderly person.
  • We greeted people with a firm handshake.
  • We said “good morning” and “have a nice day.”

What has happened?  Some young people don’t even acknowledge Grandma with the courtesy of making eye contact or saying hello, usually never lifting their head from the video game or smart phone long enough.

Do parents still teach their kids manners?  Or, because their kids are “the center of the Universe” they no longer need to acknowledge others?  Has child raising come to this?

What we need are the good old department store charm schools of the 50’s and 60’s.  Every young girl wanted to go!  It was a time when fathers would think less of their sons if they didn’t help the older neighbor carry her groceries or open the door when your date gets into the passenger seat of the car.

“The Golden Rule” or the “Ethic of Reciprocity” has a basis in almost every world religion. It can also be explained with Philosophy, Sociology, or Psychology.  The concept predates the term “Golden Rule” which became popular in the1600’s.

In the bible we have a form of this in a couple of passages;

Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.  Leviticus 19:18

Do to others as you would have them do to you.  Luke 6:31

So what has gone wrong?  Are we really so into ourselves that we can’t acknowledge others, offer them a greeting, look them in the eye, assist them when they need help?  If we were really treating our neighbors as ourselves, then these questions would be moot.

Let’s make an effort to be more cordial, helpful, engaging and aware of our surroundings.  Maybe, if we do, it might rub off on our children.

We can only hope!

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