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Corbella: Truckers, politicians should remember their manners


Manners are what set us apart from the beasts, though sometimes it seems the beasts have better manners than us Homo sapiens

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Manners maketh man.

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Those three age-old words speak volumes.

Without manners, it’s impossible for humans to live in community. If you’re living alone in a cave somewhere, manners really don’t matter much; but if you live around others, there are manners, etiquette, rules and laws all designed to prevent conflict and make life more enjoyable.

Manners are what set us apart from the beasts, though sometimes it seems the beasts have better manners than us Homo sapiens.

Blaring air horns at all hours of the day and night is rude. Period. It’s not okay. It’s wrong. People who live near Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa say the round-the-clock blasting of truck horns is akin to psychological torture — not unlike what the U.S. military did to Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega when they blasted his refuge with heavy metal music. It’s what broke him.

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Honking your horn early in the morning or late at night — just once, never mind incessantly — shows a total lack of consideration for others. Ontario’s Superior Court Justice Hugh McLean agreed and granted a 10-day injunction to Ottawa residents to try to stop truckers parked in downtown Ottawa from using their horns, which is tormenting residents.

“Tooting a horn is not an expression of any great thought I’m aware of,” said McLean during a court hearing in Ottawa Monday as he tried to weigh the rights of protesters’ freedom of expression with the rights of residents to enjoy their homes, not be disturbed or harmed.

Blocking a road or a railway or a person’s place of work is also rude and usually illegal.

It’s also wrong to not give way on a sidewalk; to not tip your umbrella as people approach; to not stay to the right on an escalator if you intend to stand and not walk; or, to not drive in the right lane on the highway if you’re driving slowly.

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It’s bad manners and a sign of terrible moral deprivation to dance on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s worse, however, to throw red paint on it. Those individuals who are commemorated by such a monument paid the ultimate price for our freedom — which, ironically, includes having the ability to dance on their tomb. But just because something’s not illegal doesn’t mean it’s okay to do it. It’s not too much to ask people to respect all tombs. Don’t knowingly walk on others’ graves. It shows a lack of respect and violates the sanctity of the place.

Protesters of the vaccine mandates implemented by the Canadian Government kneel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on February 5, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada.
Protesters of the vaccine mandates implemented by the Canadian Government kneel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on February 5, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada. Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Flying a Nazi flag is the height of insensitivity, even if your reason for flying it is to protest growing authoritarianism of a government. It’s a symbol of pure hatred and was the rallying flag of those who believed in murdering people because of their race. For Jewish people, in particular, many of whom lost family members in the Holocaust, it strikes terror in their hearts and causes revulsion in all decent people. The swastika is hate speech and, frankly, should be banned as such, which is something the federal NDP is pushing for. It has its place in museums, but it never belongs on our streets, regardless of the point you’re trying to make. Freedom of expression has its limits.

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The Confederate flag has similarly grown to symbolize the support of slavery and has been adopted by white supremacists and neo-Nazis. It, too, strikes fear and loathing in the hearts of Black men and women, and many others. It, too, should be banned.

On another note, it’s terrible manners to call people names and to label them when you know nothing or little about them, something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has done repeatedly throughout the pandemic when someone doesn’t agree with him. It’s illogical and wrong to paint everyone in a crowd with the same brush because of the actions of a few.

Trudeau was once opposed to vaccine mandates but as soon as he realized he could turn the topic into a wedge issue during his unnecessarily called snap election, he changed his tune and then started vilifying anyone who disagreed with him. That’s rude, wrong and shows terrible leadership.

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Legendary silver screen dancer and actor Fred Astaire quipped: “The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.”

Not from our PM and not from those who protest against him.

Just imagine what our country would be like if we actually did try to live up to the Golden Rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

We wouldn’t try to force people to take a medication they don’t want; we wouldn’t call people names if they don’t agree with us; and, we wouldn’t blare our horns to annoy people. We’d consider the feelings of our neighbours — always. We wouldn’t be annoying just to get even with someone who you think harmed you.

Emily Post, best known for her book on etiquette, said: “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

The belief that Canadians are super polite is increasingly becoming a myth. Basic manners would go a long way towards unifying this country. Is it any surprise that we have become so divided?

Licia Corbella is a Postmedia columnist in Calgary.

l corbella@postmedia.com

Twitter: @LiciaCorbella

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