Lesson 7
Manners Are Practically Non-Existent

Manners nowadays in metropolitan cities like London are practically non-existent. It is nothing for a big, strong schoolboy to elbow an elderly woman aside in the dash for the last remaining seat on the tube or bus, much less stand up and offer his seat to her, as he ought. In fact, it is saddening to note that if a man does offer his seat to an older woman, it is nearly always a Continental man or one from the older generation.

This question of giving up seats in public transport is much argued about by young men, who say that, since women have claimed equality, they no longer deserve to be treated with courtesy and that those who go out to work should take their turn in the rat race like anyone else. Women have never claimed to be physically as strong as men. Even if it is not agreed, however, that young men should stand up for younger women, the fact remains that courtesy should be shown to the old, the sick and the burdened. Are we really so lost to all ideals of unselfishness that we can sit there indifferently reading the paper or a book,saying to ourselves “First come, first served,” while a grey-haired woman, a mother with a young child or a cripple stands? Yet this is all too often seen.

Conditions in travel are really very hard on everyone, we know, but hardship is surely no excuse. Sometimes one wonders what would have been the behaviour of these stout young men in a packed refugee train or a train on its way to a prison-camp during the War. Would they have considered it only right and their proper due to keep the best places for themselves then?

Older people, tired and irritable from a day’s work, are not angels, either — far from it. Many a brisk argument or an insulting quarrel breaks out as the weary queues push and shove each other to get on buses and tubes. One cannot commend this, of course, but one does feel there is just a little more excuse.

If cities are to remain pleasant places to live in at all, however, it seems imperative, not only that communications in transport should be improved, but also that communication between human beings should be kept smooth and polite. All over cities, it seems that people are too tired and too rushed to be polite. Shop assistants won’t bother to assist, taxi-drivers growl at each other as they dash dangerously round corners, bus conductor pull the bell before their desperate passengers have had time to get on or off the bus, and so on and so on. It seems to us that it is up to the young and strong to do their small part to stop such deterioration.

名人名言

People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.

—Edith Schaeffer

I would rather see a young man blush than turn pale.

—Mark Twain

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.

—Beverly Sills

礼貌事实上不复存在

如今,礼貌在像伦敦这样的大都市里实际上已经不存在了。一个大个头,身体强壮的男学生在冲向地铁或公共汽车的最后一个座位时,用肘部把一个老太太推向一旁,这已经不算什么了,更别指望他站起来把座位让给老太太,尽管他应该那样做。实际上,我们悲哀地发现如果真有一个人把自己的座位让给老年妇女,那么这个人几乎总是欧洲大陆人或是上一代人。

在公共交通工具上让座的问题常被青年人反驳,他们说,既然妇女要求平等,那么她们将不应再被礼貌(courtesy)对待,那些出去工作的人应该像其他任何人一样在激烈的竞争中轮流等候。妇女从未声明像男子一样身强力壮。即使年轻男子不同意应该让位给年轻女子的做法,但是对那些老人,病者和负重之人仍应给予礼貌。难道我们真的丧失了所有的无私思想,以至于我们在一位白发苍苍的老太太,一位抱着孩子的母亲或一伤残者(cripple)站在旁边时,能够如此漫不经心地读着报纸或一本书,同时对自己说“先来,先享受”吗? 然而这却是太常见的景象了。

我们知道,对每个人来讲,旅途中的条件都是很苦的,但是艰苦确实不是理由。有时人们想知道,在一列拥挤的难民车或在战期驶往监狱的火车上,那些强壮的(stout)年轻男子会怎样做。那时,他们会不会认为为自己留下最好的位子是正确的并且是他们的应得权益?

老人,常因一天的工作变得劳累且易怒(irritate),他们也不会表现得如天使一般——远远不会。上地铁或公共汽车时,疲倦的人们前挤后拥,彼此推搡(shove),许多激烈的(brisk)或侮辱性的争吵就会爆发。当然,我们无法说这种现象是错是对,只是能理解疲倦是其发生的原因之一。

如果城市还打算保持其良好的居住环境,这一点十分必要(imperative),不仅运输工具要改进,人类之间的交流也更有必要保持畅通和有礼貌。整个城市里,似乎人们太疲倦,太匆忙以至于做不到讲礼貌。商店售货员不愿麻烦自己过来帮忙;当出租汽车司机们在拐角处危险地冲过去时,他们会彼此大吼大叫(growl);公共汽车售票员在拼命的乘客们尚未来得及上下车之前,拉动车铃,等等,等等。在我们看来正是年轻人和强壮者出一点力以阻止这种状况恶化(deteriorate)的时候了。

名人名言

人们往往坚持完美(perfection)而扔掉了一些他们原本可以有的东西,但他们是不可能拥有完美的,虽然他们还在永远找不到完美的地方到处搜寻。

——伊迪丝·谢弗

我宁可看到年轻人脸红,也不愿看到他脸色变得苍白。

——马克·吐温

失败了你或许会失望,但如果不去试,那你就死定了。

——贝弗利·西尔斯