Monday, October 8, 2012

This is On My Mind

In 1908, at the age of twelve, my father started working in the lead mines of Granby, Missouri. He walked a mule on a windlass in a circle to raise or lower the miners into the mine. Eight revolutions in the circle reached level one, twelve cycles, to level two, and so on. Before dying in his eighties, he marveled that science had progressed from that early mechanical concept to having man walk on the moon.
Certainly we all have benefited from the advances of science. Living in Arizona would be difficult without air conditioning. We all live a much easier life in many ways because of the advancement of knowledge. As is often the case, advancement also carries with it the law of unintended consequences.

With our ability to communicate immediately with others in distant locations; the availability of news as it happens from all parts of the globe; the multiplicity of entertainment devices in our living rooms, it seems that sometimes we neglect the social niceties in dealing with others.

Even as a youth there was considerable contact with others—perhaps a bicycle tire needed air; an errand to the grocery store for my mother; or buying a coke at the drug store for a young friend who’d shared a movie with me. My parents, both by example and specific teaching instructed me in the rudiments of “getting along with others.” A gentleman always held the door for a lady; “please” and “thank you” were words to be used liberally; swearing was never to be tolerated; adults were addressed as “Sir” or “Ma’am”, or “Mr.” or “Mrs.”, never by their given name.

Sadly, I think that manners today are often a neglected subject in most homes. For example, do you often get a thank you notes from someone you’ve given a gift? Do you occasionally want to shout to the driver ahead, “Next time buy a car with turn signals”? Have you ever dealt with someone who was so busy on a cell phone they didn’t acknowledge your presence? Do events such as these do anything to your blood pressure?

One thing that gives me great pleasure is working the athletic events at the University of Arizona. Part of my responsibility is getting the students into the arena. Recently, a young couple approached me for admittance. The young man took the co-ed with him gently by the elbow and allowed her to be served first.  That insignificant event was so unusual that I commented to the young lady that her companion had good manners and if being treated respectfully was important to her, she should give him special attention. Am I a dinosaur? Probably, but it was refreshing to observe a young man exhibiting proper etiquette.

Though not related to manners, another occurrence is related to technological advancement. We are, I fear, as a people, losing our love of reading. I recall many times as a youth, laying on my back in the grass, studying clouds for whatever images I could find. I’ve seen alligators, long necked geese, humpy back camels and chimpanzees. Once I even saw a unicorn. Why is that important? It helped me to develop my imagination so that I was readily transported to magical places by the books I read. It seems today people are more interested in having some type of instrument in their hands with which to entertain themselves. A young lady of my acquaintance once told me she had sent one thousand text messages in a month. That seems excessive to me. Of course, I’d rather talk to someone direct than text them. Perhaps my judgment should be disqualified.

At a recent book signing I met a young man who confessed he didn’t like to read books, because he’d rather have something in his hands. The comment was accompanied by holding his hands as though holding something, while his thumbs wagged frantically. What a shame! He’d rather text or play X-Box than read. Oh! Did I mention he is a high school teacher?

While on my soap box, one last thought. Respect and responsibility are becoming archaic and are in danger of being eliminated from the dictionary.
Don’t forget to use your turn signals.
D. Lincoln Jones

D. Lincoln Jones
After a thirty-year career working for two Fortune 500 companies, D. Lincoln Jones ventured into the world of private business. As an entrepreneur, he has founded and served as the president of two corporations.
Always seeking new horizons, he has toured the West by motorcycle on his Honda Goldwing. When he settled, he became a student of art, excelling in working with pastels and colored pencil. His work is displayed in homes and small collections across the country. He is most proud of a sketch of Raggedy Ann and Andy, a gift to his granddaughter that she treasures.
Jones has been an avid reader since childhood, so his desire to write has come naturally. Among his favorite books are Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, Shogun by James Clavell, and The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.
High Grade is his first novel. A second is in progress.

David’s website:


Jenny McLeod Carlisle said...

I still see a lot of young people with good manners. As for written thank-you notes, I agree they seem to be outmoded. I still enjoy writing and receiving them. We need to set the example for things such as this. If your reader wants something in his hands- can he read on Kindle? All is not lost!

Marilyn said...

David, I can certainly relate to your message. I try to adapt to the present, but I do miss the old ways. Now I deliberately express appreciation of any act of kindness and respect I encounter. Store managers hear from me with the compliments, I wave to rude drivers, and I open doors for people. I hope some of it will rub off. But I still dream of yesterdays.

Deborah Dee Harper said...


The opinions expressed in your post mirror mine precisely. I, too, worry about good manners falling by the wayside, as iPhones, gaming, and other electronic distractiions take the place of person-to-person contact, or for that matter, time spent alone just thinking, observing nature and fellow human beings, or watching clouds sail by. Well said!