Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bringing Back Acts of Chivalry

You may have noticed that in the "About Me" section of my blog (over there on the left) I tell you that I believe in "courtesy, common sense, and fair play." Think about that first one for a moment - courtesy. One of the sad things about modern life is how poorly we tend to treat each other. Simple acts of courtesy and kindness are relatively rare, particularly in comparison to the number of acts of boorish behavior on the part of people who ought to know better. Just look at the fact that we need a term for "road rage," that people shoot each other in movie theaters over texting, that some young people feel the need to act like thugs to establish "street cred." Listen to some of the intemperate comments made by the members of Congress you'd think should be setting a better example. In the words of Rodney King, "Why can't we just get along?"

A few days ago one of my Facebook friends posted a link to an interesting article titled "Eight Acts of Chivalry to Bring Back." The author is part of the "New Chivalry Movement," described as "a community for modern men who are striving to be better in all areas of life." It's sad to think that we need such a movement, but good to see that we actually have one.

But getting back to the eight acts of chivalry to bring back ... here they are, in case you don't want to read the whole article:

1. Giving up Your Seat. I was always taught by my parents that it's proper for a gentleman to offer up his seat to a lady or to a sick or elderly person if there are no other seats available. They may not take you up on it, but making the offer is the right thing to do. Interestingly enough, a while back on the Metro, a young woman actually offered me her seat on a crowded train. I declined, but it was a very nice gesture, even if it made me feel old and decrepit.

2. Pulling Out a Woman's Chair. This was another of the polite things I was always taught to do. The lady is, of course, perfectly capable of pulling out her own chair, but the action indicates that the gentleman cares for her comfort.

3. Opening Doors for Her. I do this whenever the situation arises. But it's interesting that I've often had doors opened for me by ladies. Chivalry lives in both sexes, even if it's on life support.

4. Calling, Not Texting a Date Invitation. This one is pretty new ... when I was dating, texting wasn't an option, you had to call the lady or ask in person. Sending a text seems a pretty shabby way to ask someone out.

5. Compliments, Compliments, Compliments. Nowadays, paying a lady a compliment can be a dangerous thing, no matter how sincere and well-intentioned (can you spell harassment lawsuit?). This is sad, because I'd like to think that a real lady would appreciate a simple, honest compliment. If someone tells me that I look good (a rare enough occurrence, to be sure), I am pleasantly surprised and genuinely appreciative.

6. Walking on the Street Side of the Sidewalk. This one is pretty simple - historically, it was designed to protect the lady from being splashed by passing traffic, hit by garbage thrown from an upper floor window, or harassed by ass clowns shouting unwanted comments from passing cars. It's also a relatively safe act that generally won't lead to complaints of sexist behavior.

7. Walking Her to Her Door. This is a nice gesture that tells the lady you are concerned about her safety. It can also lead to uncomfortable situations in which it appears that you are angling for a kiss or an invitation to come inside for some advanced nookie, so - unfortunately - it's best to be careful with this one.

8. Dropping Her Off First When Parking Far Away. I do this for Agnes all the time if it's raining or the parking place is a long way off. It's a nice gesture.

To these eight acts, I might add these:

9. Put the Phone Away. If you're with someone and you're not a doctor on call, it's very rude to check your phone every fifteen seconds, send text messages, or answer every incoming call or text. Give your attention to the live person you're with.

10. Be Cheerful. I don't know if it's true that it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown, but smiling is a good idea. I try to be cheerful as much as I can, and I find that people react well to it. There's plenty of time to be grumpy if the other person turns out to be an ass clown.

The article notes that although some chivalrous acts derive from the chauvinistic mindset of the past, when they were performed for women because “they can’t do it themselves," they can also represent thoughtful measures that can reflect love, caring, and respect. In a time when everybody believes they deserve respect, all too few people seem willing to give it.

Let's bring back chivalry. Or, as the motto of one of our favorite local restaurants says, "Be nice or get out."

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Purple Flowers said...

Dear Bilbo: I think it is a sad commentary on today's times, that we need to read a book for restoring chivalry into our society. I love opening the door for a man or woman, old or young...well, you get what I mean. And I also believe that a smile goes a long way.
We need to chip away the ice that has held us in bondage for so long. By this, I mean tripping over every word and action we do for each other as human beings. The extremes on both sides have attempted to ruin chivalry. My own personal campaign is to simply be nice to people I meet, just like I want to be treated. There is a decency to our society, and I would like to do my part to strengthen it.

Amanda said...

I read that article on Facebook. And then, the very next day, I tried to teach Aaron about compliments. Today, we went to a friends house and he says "This house has awesome toys! Its just really messy....and the floors are dusty"

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I'm all for bringing back chiviary. And nice guys do finish best.

KathyA said...


Duckbutt said...

I also wish that people would try better at being plain civil to each other. Everyday rudeness can be so hard to put up with.

Mike said...

The texting thing is a nonstarter for me since I don't text. Calling is much easier.

If you want to drive kids nuts, keep asking them who they are texting and what they are texting about and what the other person a texting back. Ask to see the screen, over and over again.

Banana Oil said...

Some guys are afraid to show those graces, feeling that they're sissified or that feminists would take umbrage toward them.

Even a lutefisk lesbian appreciates these little acts of chivalry.

Big Sky Heidi said...

Texting when you are with someone else is a definite no-no.

It is astonishing how many lapses in civility have mushroomed in the last five years.

Bilbo said...

Kathleen - you get a free hug for that comment!

Amanda - out of the mouths of babes ...

Angel - I'll pull out your chair any time.

Kathy - ;-)

Duckbutt - I agree completely.

Mike - somehow, I don't think we evolved thumbs in order to send text messages.

Kathy in Florida - good point. And I've never heard of a "lutefisk lesbian" before ... my vocabulary has been enriched.

Heidi - Sad truth about texting. But some of us are trying to bring back civility. Next time you're in the DC area, I'll open a door for you!