Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More on the lack of manners

Previously, I discussed my habit of returning shopping carts at the grocery store, noting that--in my view--it was just good manners to return something you had essentially borrowed. But I had observed that I seemed to be one of the few people who felt this way, leading me to this quote from Robert Heinlein's novel, Friday:
But a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.
In that regard, consider this story from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
One man was stabbed with a golf club shaft after a brawl broke out when the threesome he was in tried to play through the group in front of them at a course at Eagle Mountain Lake.
That's pretty awful. For those unfamiliar with golf etiquette, when one group of players is moving faster than another--taking fewer strokes, hitting quicker, etc.--it's customary for the slower group to wait for a few minutes to allow the faster group past them, that way the course doesn't get bogged down with waiting players. It's very much like moving one's car to the far right lane so cars traveling faster can pass.

In this particular case, a course marshal--who works for the course and is in charge--apparently told the threesome to play through and the foursome to wait. But that didn't happen. A fight ensued, instead. The man who was stabbed may lose the leg--due to blood loss--and could have very well died. And over what? Which group got to go first?

The situation does mirror road rage, in many respects. We've all been behind people who we think are driving too slow, and we've all been tailgated by people who we think are being obnoxious. It's tough to definitely say who is in the right, even though we usually feel that we are. And it's equally difficult to simply allow others to have their way in things, to make a practice of avoiding conflict at all costs. Because let's face it, that's not right or fair, either.

But issues can be categorized, according to importance. I may not want to simply let some obnoxious person push me out of the way in a Starbucks line, but then again, it's certainly not something I want use as a basis for resorting to violence.

In this case, the issue is a game, however. And it's not even the internal competition of the game that led to conflict, it's the protocols of the field of play. And yes, I know basketball courts around the country have seen violence erupt over the issue of whose turn it is to use the courts. But I've never heard of it happening on a golf course, before. And certainly, I've never heard of someone getting stabbed for wanting to play through.

This strikes me as a particularly bad sign, as evidence that a lack of manners is becoming more pervasive. And I can't help but wonder what the relationship of this is to the issues I discussed in my previous piece.

Cheers, all.

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