The Lost Art Of Common Courtesy

Acts of kindness are revolutionary.

Common courtesy has been all but common as of late. Writer Jeff Barton has an article on the topic that raises the question:

Have we completely lost common courtesy?

Lost And Forgotten

It feels like the whole world is on edge right now. People are one wrong look away from getting confrontational. Cutting someone off in traffic might get a gun pulled out on you. There is a chance that taking someone’s parking space could get you shot. Not that anyone should do these things anyway, but if it happens, is it really worth starting something? The most attention that any of these offenses deserve is a middle finger, then just keep it moving.

What is going on in people’s lives to where everyone seems so angry?

Nice, everyday gestures that used to come natural to people do not seem to come so natural anymore. Common courtesy are acts of kindness that are expected. However, in the world today I’ve come to expect rudeness more so than any act of kindness. I barely even get the honorary head-nod from other black men now!

Maybe we’re all so wrapped up in our own problems that we aren’t even thinking enough outside of ourselves enough to be nice. Maybe we view kindness as a weakness because so many people are looking to take advantage of others. Maybe we feed off negativity more than positivity. Maybe deep down we’re not satisfied with our own lives, so we’re taking it out on others.

Whatever the case is, it is in all of our best interests to co-exist in a way that makes life easier on all of us. Problems in our lives are unavoidable, but that does not mean we have to make it harder for everyone else by dumping our shit out on other people. I’m a firm believer in that the energy we give out, is the energy that we receive in return.

Acts of common courtesy have the power to change someone’s mood in an instant. And the best part about them is that they cost us nothing! The smallest gestures of kindness can go a long way, but the fact that common courtesy has become so rare indicates our lack of understanding of the power we possess to have an impact on other’s lives.

“People will forget what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Restoring Common Courtesy

Since common courtesy seems to have been on the decline for some time now, there may be some people who do not even know there are some acts of kindness that should be expected among people. As a reminder to us all, here are some ways that we can all incorporate common courtesy into our everyday lives:

  • Hold doors open — It’s considerate taking an extra 2 seconds not to let the door slam on the person behind you.
  • Say please and thank you — Most people don’t like to be demanded around and like to feel appreciated. A simple please and thank you makes you sound like less of a jerk every time.
  • Share the road with runners and bikers — These roads weren’t built for you only. If you feel like a runner or biker is in your way, you’re probably really just mad at yourself because you know your unhealthy ass should be exercising.
  • Give compliments — This is one of the best ways to uplift someone’s spirits by making the feel good about themselves.
  • Smile — There comes a time in every person’s life where we unintentionally make eye contact with random strangers. Don’t be afraid to smile when this happens. This is also the most contagious expression, so expect a smile back.
  • Actively listen — In conversations, let people know you’re listening by giving them eye contact, letting them complete an idea before you interrupt, and respond accordingly.
  • Address people by their name — The sweetest sound to someone is hearing their own name. Ask what their name is again if you forget. Asking more than once if you honestly forget is not rude. Addressing people by “hey, you…” is rude.
  • Mind your own business — Just because you’re eavesdropping does not give you the right to butt in any situation like you know what’s going on. Sometimes the best course of action is staying in your own lane.
  • Help someone when you are able — If you’re in a position to help another person, why wouldn’t you?
  • Be empathetic — Before you’re so quick to judge, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. We all walk different paths and have our own struggles that we deal with. Respect what people are going through.
  • Disagree respectfully — You don’t have to agree with opinions, but just because you disagree does not give you the right to be a jerk and take it personal. It’s okay to agree to disagree and still have love for someone.
  • Be willing to give up your position — Let someone over in traffic. Give up your seat on the bus to the pregnant woman with 2 other bad ass kids with her. Let that person with 1 item behind you in line at the check-out go before you since you’re grocery shopping like it’s the apocalypse.
  • Stick to your word — Things change, situations arise, and we can’t always do what we said we would. That’s perfectly fine, just let that person know. Communicate, sheesh!
  • Let loved ones know how you feel — As people, we have a tendancy to take those closest to us for granted. Show you’re appreciation to the people in your life by taking the time to let them know you love them. A simple text will do. Give people flowers while they can still smell them.
  • Be considerate — Consider the fact the world doesn’t revolve around your ass. Consider other people’s feelings. Consider the fact that we’re all from different backgrounds and experience, so we’re not supposed to think the same. Consider the fact that someone’s gain is not your loss. There is abundance. Consider the fact that just because your life sucks doesn’t mean you have to take it out on us!

1 Small Gesture For Man Is 1 Giant Leap For Mankind

I get it, negativity sells. Everywhere we turn there’s discourse. The news is constantly broadcasting all the discourse around the world. People are willing to spew hate on social media because we’re drawn to the drama. When it comes to war, many countries profit from conflict.

“The only thing wrong with peace is that you can’t make money from it.” -Gil Scott-Heron

When it comes to restoring common courtesy, everyone can’t do everything but everyone can do something. We can all do our part by practicing random acts of kindness on a daily basis. Like when a rock skips across water, these gestures cause ripples in the universe. Nice gestures are contagious, so someone on the receiving end of an act of kindness will often feel obligated to pay it forward. That’s how love gets spread around.

Common courtesy alone may not bring about world peace, but it is a step towards treating our human family with the respect that we all deserve.

Spoken word artist and writer. Living my life and writing about it along the way, it just might inspire somebody. IG: @iamjustinpatton

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