Of Manners and Elevators

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On our last morning at the hotel over the weekend, two men who were younger than Ray and I waited when the elevator doors opened and gave both of us time to enter first. Since we were riding down from the fifth floor, I had time to comment on their good manners. I also added that I rarely see proper elevator manners anymore.

Much to my amused surprise, the older of the two hurried off the elevator in front of us when we arrived on the first floor. I gave Ray a “Did you see that? Isn’t that funny!” look. When I noticed this same man praying silently and alone for a long time before he began his breakfast in the breakfast room, I felt ashamed of my quick judgment.

So what is my point in this story?

One, we shouldn’t be quick to question and judge others.

Second, we should teach our children good manners (including not being so quick to question and judge). Personally, I like the old fashioned ones, in which:

  • Gentlemen give honor to ladies with such kindnesses as opening doors for them, standing back and letting them go first, and removing their hats in their presence.

You husbands in the same way,
live with your wives in an understanding way,
as with someone weaker, since she is a woman;
and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life,
so that your prayers will not be hindered.
1 Peter 3:7

  • Younger people (of any age) give honor to older people (of any age) with the same kindnesses mentioned above.

“You shall rise up before the grayheaded
and honor the aged,
and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.”
Leviticus 19:32

It is also important to follow good manners which adhere to the Golden Rule. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

“In everything, therefore, 
treat people the same way you want them to treat you,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 7:12

  • Children and adults should greet others quickly with a smile and with kindness and respect during visits and in a variety of social settings. These greetings should include relatives, people we are close to, people we know but are not close to, and especially anyone who may feel uncomfortable or out of place. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:

“If you greet only your brothers,
what more are you doing than others?
Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Matthew 5:47

  • Children and adults should treat others with equity, especially in large gatherings.

If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 
But if you show partiality, you are committing sin
and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
James 2:8-9

Family in Calvert County, Maryland, January 1942.
Photo by John Collier Jr., courtesy Library of Congress.

  • Children and adults should honor others as valuable people. A few ways to do this are to make eye contact, to show interest in what others are saying, and even to wait until everyone has gathered and God has been thanked before beginning a meal.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; 
give preference to one another in honor.
Romans 12:10

And here’s a bonus, just for fun, elevator tip for a long marriage. When Ray and I find ourselves alone when the elevator doors close, we give each other a kiss.

And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Proverbs 5:18b


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