professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Where have all the manners gone?

Where have all the manners gone? Long time passing.
Where have all the manners gone? Long time ago.
Where have all the manners gone? Gone to MEMEMEMEMEMEME for everyone.

When will we ever learn? When we will ever learn?

Okay, pardon he reference to one of my favorite folk songs of all time. Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry for the song and for Pete Seeger: And, yes, I do know that there are other sources beyond Wikipedia. But this will suffice for the explanation of the reference I am using above.

What set me off here on this rant about the lack of manners is two-fold. First, I flew recently. I paid for a first class ticket, too. But you would never know that if you based the behavior of the folks boarding in the first class line. Chivalry is dead for certain. Men jostled to be at the front of the line. One even made a colleague of mine switch seats so he could have the aisle. Prior to boarding he had been sitting in a wheelchair. They called for someone to wheel him onto the plane, but he said he was sitting there because there was not room anywhere else. There was, and the airline representative called him on this blatant lie. But the behavior persisted. So, he bullies his way on board first in line by posing as someone who is in a wheelchair and then insists on having an aisle seat, too. Actually, he was supposed to be sitting next to me (I, too had an aisle), and when I indicated I would not be giving up my seat, he got someone else to switch with him.

This is not an isolated incident, either. I see folks time and again jockeying for position at the head of the line (and in first class this is ridiculous as there will always be room in the overhead bins).

But I saw this bullying behavior yesterday when an author took on a review of his book he did not like. Yes, he left comment after comment for the reviewer taking her to task for each of her very valid critical comments. He demanded the review be removed. When did this become acceptable? I elected not to review this author's work as it was truly dreadful. I do not spend time and effort reviewing bad books. I prefer to note the ones I think will work well with kids and simply discard the ones I do not see as having value for the classroom. However, authors need to know how to deal with reviews that are not all sweetness and light. You can easily imagine this was a first book and one not produced with a mainstream publisher. Nonetheless, where are the manners here? When has it become acceptable for an author to DEMAND a review be removed?

And what, pray tell, does this have to do with reading and book? I think someone who is well read is empathetic. He or she would not push to the front of a line or demand his book receives more stars or a better review. He or she would be able to feel empathy toward another. That is one of the things that excellent books do: they develop empathy. Think of the books that have already garnered awards: BROWN GIRL DREAMING comes to mind. Who can complete the reading (and re-reading) of that book and not walk away more empathetic? Who would not be moved? Who would not want to find Jacqueline Woodson and thank her for the gift of this incredible book, this memoir in verse? To thank her for the words we now have that perhaps we did not possess before?

More reading, less insensitivity.
Tags: books, empathy, manners, reading, rudeness
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