A return to good manners would help
Continuing traffic problems that keep the police busy, along with increasing public concerns about safety on our roads, may be caused by a loss of basic good manners in how we behave towards each other.
Drastic changes in how we communicate with modern devices could also have a negative side, since in too many instances good quality conversation is often replaced by short electronic blips in this new wave of cyberspace interaction, which seems to have dominated the way most people communicate these days.
Communication devices are improving every day and the positive side to this wizardry is that without it some incidents that involve gross injustice would probably be swept beneath the proverbial carpet without ever being placed before the bright light of public scrutiny. That is certainly technology that most would agree has long been overdue in combating crime.
Amid such dazzling technical advances in communication, there should also be caution that old-fashioned good manners, which carries politeness, respectfulness and consideration for others, is not left by the wayside in the maze of ceaseless texting exchanges where no one has the last word.
In light of our present economic challenges, and other problems facing our Island, concern about good manners may seem trivial, but without this traditional quality, our ability to reason with one another is made much more difficult.
Good manners is an ingredient that also allows us to have opposing viewpoints on a variety of issues without damaging our core relations and respect for one another, regardless of political or any other differences that diverse societies have — and that includes our Island home Bermuda.
Unfortunately in recent times, there have been bitter political exchanges where good manners seem to have been pushed aside without much thought about what signals it sends to young people.
That needs to stop.
Every day poor road manners and blatant acts of total disregard for basic safety rules take place, and some of these are not just close calls. This could be a sign that our manners infrastructure has weakened, resulting in negative attitudes by some motorists, especially those who disregard the safety of others daily by overtaking at high speeds.
No amount of warnings or calls for more consideration by police and road safety officials has halted this practice, despite a trail of mishaps that in some cases have claimed lives.
Bermuda put itself on the world map as one of the finest holiday resorts in the business, not so much by glossy ads promoting our amenities, but with hard-working people from every section of our communities who knew that friendliness and politeness would be remembered beyond a beautiful beach experience. We should never lose touch with those qualities.
In a sense, Johnny Barnes has personified the importance of not only good manners, but has highlighted the difference a warm greeting can make in anyone’s life. His commitment to greeting motorists along East Broadway has never been a publicity stunt, but certainly a significant gesture in helping to keep the spirit of goodwill alive on the Island.
While there are stories of schoolchildren giving up their seats for seniors or visitors, there are countless reports of conduct that falls very short of what is expected from our students.
Perhaps greater emphasis should be made to emphasise the importance of proper conduct at all times, and much of this should be taught in the home.
There will be no change overnight in negative attitudes that trouble many Bermudians who yearn for more consideration in dealing with each other — both on our roads and in community activities. Most of us fall short at times in this area, and that is to be expected, but it should never be accepted as just a part of today’s environment.
As adults, we must strive to be positive role models for the next generation. Bermuda will always be very special, providing we leave no stone unturned in ensuring that good manners remains a key part of our culture. We all have a part in making that happen.