I’m not quite sure why I called this “Courtesy”, perhaps because if you speak kindly towards people, good emotions flow and people feel calmer if they’re addressed in a respectful, considerate manner.
I know that, when we lived among people of the Islamic faith when we were living in northern England in 2002-4, we behaved with courtesy towards Muslim people and were respectful of religious beliefs, and we were treated likewise by the people around us.
In talking of courtesy, I’m also referring to what people often sneeringly call “Politically Correct” language. The reality is that PC language calls you to account if you use offensive language that is no longer tolerated or tolerable. It is no longer okay to malign religious groups; handicapped people – whether physical or intellectual; ridicule or abuse or discriminate against a personal’s sexual preferences; use unacceptable language about a person’s racial heritage or, again, discriminate against a person’s colour; demean people with impolite language.
And that’s as it should be.
Of course, there are those who wallow in the past when you could be rude to all and sundry and you got away with being offensive to people. But times change. Now there is such a thing as politeness (a weird concept to some, I know) and if you offend people you are called to account. It’s hard at times for the dim, the angry, the racists, the bigots but, there you go, times change and ugly language is being given an indecent burial. About time.
Courtesy may sound old-fashioned but there’s a very good word for it: decency. There’s nothing wrong with treating people politely, kindly, with a smile, and with generosity. You never know what difference you might make in a person’s life if you light their day with love.