We have chosen the theme Short Fuse for our National Courtesy Day this Friday (5th October 2001). We feel that everyone is living on a short fuse – many people do anyway, but it is heightened at the moment – and they are flying off the handle at the slightest provocation. Say the wrong thing and someone may smack you one. We want to encourage people to slow down, listen to one another and smile. These things help you to react in a more controlled way, which makes others’ lives more agreeable, is good for your love life and good for business.
The Prime Minister’s call for the return of respect in all areas of public life has been firmly endorsed by the Campaign For Courtesy, a charity formed to promote good manners.
“We were delighted that Mr Blair focused on this as a key issue in the revival of this nation’s fortunes” said Campaign founder Ian Gregory. In an address to the annual meeting on May 18th he said that although with technology and science we were living in the space age, in social order and personal relationships “we are still in the stone age”.
Lack of respect in personal relationships was at the root of a national sickness called stress said Mr Gregory. Why was there low morale among people in almost every profession, from the police, to teachers, farmers, nurses and civil servants ? Why were children leaving school with academic awards, but few social graces ?
“You would have thought, with the steady advance of civilisation over at least two centuries that at least here in the West we would by now have reached the promised land of fearless prosperity and contentment. The slave trade officially ended in 1838, so why are so many people enslaved to depression ?”.
There was an epidemic of loneliness. Surgeries were overwhelmed with unhappy people. There was a mood of surly discontent and ‘me-centered misery’ which no legislation was able or mandated to cure.
The picture could change with a wide acceptance of the need to behave with courtesy towards others, in spite of the aggression and frustration which we all encountered in every area of personal life
“We have to accept the slings and arrows of daily experience, but it helps if we live by the statement which forms the basis of our organisation: that manners matter.”