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Where, oh where is Lancelot?

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When I was young (and it was no where near as long ago as my kids seem to think,) we were taught to respect our elders, authority figures, and the privacy of others. We opened doors for women; we knew it was women and young children first when waiting in a line; and we knew to duck down when forced to walk in front of people while at the theater.

I know, it sounds like I'm dreaming of the mythical kingdom of Camelot. But, for those too young to remember the good 'ol days (just after the age dinosaurs,) there really was a time when the average person understood common courtesy. It was understood that when people were talking, kids (and other adults,) would wait before speaking. They would not interrupt -- unless they wanted to feel their father's wrath. I'm not advocating the return of "spoken only when spoken to," but it sure would be nice to carry on a conversation without being interrupted half a dozen times.

The other thing I can't figure is why we're no longer teaching "Theater Etiquette." When I was a boy, we were taught it was rude to leave in the middle of a performance. We were taught that talking during a performance was wrong. And, we were taught that taking pictures with a flash was just 'bad form.' I recently attended the "Mormon Miracle Pageant," in Manti, and despite numerous requests from the announcer, every two or three minutes, a flash lit the crowd. And one aspiring young photographer repeatedly held his camera up above the crowd, blocking the view of at least a dozen rows behind him. Then, part way through the performance, half a row of people stood up and gathered their things to leave. I'm hoping nothing important happened during that time, since I couldn't see a thing. Then to top it all off, about an hour into the performance, two teenaged boys came running down the isle, and when blocked by the legs of those sitting there quietly enjoying the performance, these two young teens climbed OVER another row, clattered the chairs together and disturbed another dozen or so people trying to enjoy the pageant.

So I say; WHERE, OH WHERE IS LANCELOT? Why have we abandoned the days when those teens would have bent over, and ask the pardon of those they we're disturbing. When those wishing to take pictures would have moved off to the side, or to the back, and would have turned off their automatic flash. When the group leaving would have done so only if absolutely necessary, and would not have stood there gathering their things, but would have crouched down and desperately tried to be less of a disturbance than the worms eating their way through the grass. Where has courtesy gone? And is there anyway to bring it back? I don't know, but I hope the age of Chivalry (or just plain courtesy) hasn't gone the way of Arthur's Camelot.


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Don Brinkerhoff


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