Some people are just plain rude. But collectively? It’s even worse! Gone are the days where holding doors, offering seats and saying please and thank you come naturally to people. Instead, we’re self-absorbed, spiteful and just constantly downtrodden about the state of the world around us.
This past Thanksgiving our pastor gave a sermon on thankfulness (to fit the occasion), but made a point to comment on how thankless we seem to be as a population. He gave stories about people who had travelled here to Toronto from overseas and how shocked they were at how few people would say “please” and “thank you” in everyday conversations. He shared his own observations on his own behaviour and that of others in stores, where good manners have become more and more of a rarity with the passing of time.
Is this not a problem? Have we become a thankless people? Have we become so ambivalent about others that we no longer care whether they feel valued or care to show value?
Obviously, our pastor linked thankfulness to being thankful to God in all He’s provided for us, but I don’t plan to make a novel out of this post, so let’s take a more microscopic look at the matter.
Why have we become less thankful?
I sent this question out to my Facebook friends and the Twitterverse to see what they thought. Some of my favourites included:
It’s true. We’re a softer generation where we:
- take things for granted;
- don’t need to put in the same amount of effort for basic survival;
- are taught from a very young age that we deserve to have everything we want from the world; and
- are bitter and spiteful when things don’t turn out the way we expect them to
One doesn’t say “please” and “thank you” for something when they expect to get it. We no longer thank people for making our lives even a bit easier, for we carry the outlook that it’s their job to do so, and that they should be thanking us for keeping them employed.
But we live in a very “monkey see, monkey do” society, so always keep in mind that someone could be learning from your behaviour, regardless of whether they’re good or bad ones, or whether you know the person or not.
So perhaps we should take a look at why being more thankful might be a good idea…
Why SHOULD we be more thankful?
This might be the kind of question you ask yourself if you’re the type of person who doesn’t question the world because “that’s just the way it is”. Or perhaps you see yourself as so insignificant to the ebbs and flows of the world — why should your actions have an effect on others?
Well guess what?
- we’re all connected
- we all have an equal potential to steer someone’s day in a good or bad direction
- even the smallest action can snowball into a larger reaction
Gradually, removing kindness from an equation makes way for a number of undesirable conditions: bitterness, resentment, envy, hatred and bigotry to name a few. It’s oversimplifying the problem, but if more kindness was shown between people of differing backgrounds, it would set a better precedent for others finding themselves in similar future situations.
Why be part of the problem when you can sow the seeds for a better solution?
How can we be more thankful?
There are literally hundreds of little things that we can do to show people how thankful we are — which I’ll cover in an upcoming post — but they’ll all be for nothing if we don’t put the right attitude behind them.
It’s all a matter of mentality — it’s refusing to accept the status quo of how we behave as a society and setting the bar higher for ourselves. It’s keeping one another accountable — the meaningful glances when someone asks for something without saying “please” or a clearing of the throat when they get it without saying “thank you” in return. Yes, it’s annoying. Yes, it will likely grate some people the wrong way — but that’s just it. We shouldn’t have to be reminded to use our manners.
Yet here we are.
I’mm promise you this, though — the more we demand a higher level of behaviour from one another, the less we’ll have to make a point of bringing our misbehaviour to light!
So be thankful — there’s a lot in your life that you’re probably taking for granted. While no one has life completely easy, let’s face it — we’re all thankful that life isn’t harder than it already is!
–Casey E. Palmer